Aurora – Chapter 24 (Part 1)

[24th of December, 2740 AD; Ahnle Peak path, outside of Glora, Ahnlikohn]


There was no mistaking the pain that Kirk felt. Two separate stab wounds that went through his back and out just beneath his rib cage. Harold stabbed him. He stabbed him, using both the darkness and Rysol’s fears to attack him. Kirk had no idea what the weapons looked like, but he knew that they were sharp and long enough to go completely through his body. Right now, all Kirk could think about was what Harold had planned next.

“You’ve really done it this time, haven’t you,” Harold said. “Your life is now in my grasp and I don’t intend on letting you go; in fact, I’ll kill you right here and now, Kirk Wilk!”

Just then, Rysol stood up and pointed his sword at Kirk and Harold. Kirk wondered to himself what Rysol was going to do, but he knew that there was no chance that he would run away now.

“I’ve run for far too long,” Rysol said. “My weakness led you to this, father, and for that… I apologize.”

Kirk tried to talk, but found it difficult to breathe as he coughed up more blood. Nothing could stop him, however, as he looked at Rysol. He had to tell him somehow that he was supposed to run away, but knew no way to do so as the pain continued to surge throughout his body. Harold was about to kill him, but Kirk knew that this would not be the end for the madman. If anything, he was going to try to take out Harold before he could do the same to him, but first he had to direct Rysol out of harm’s way.

“If I had been stronger all those years ago… then perhaps… then perhaps mother would still be alive,” Rysol said. “But it’s too late to keep dwelling on what I couldn’t do back then. Now is the time that I have the opportunity to finally make everything right for you, father.”

“What stupidity,” Harold scoffed. “Do you really believe that you can save him? I’ve already pierced his lungs and have him at my mercy! You’re a goddamn fool if you think you can change what’s already been decided!”

Rysol stepped forward. “Don’t worry,” he said. “Once I save my father, I’ll make sure your death is a painful one.”

Harold laughed. “I’ll kill you before you even come near me.”

“We’ll see about that one, you piece of shit,” Rysol replied. “Harold Mars… prepare to die!”

At that moment, Rysol came charging at Harold. Kirk could feel both blades exit out of his back, which made him collapse to the ground. His vision began to blur, but he could see Rysol’s sword clash with Harold’s daggers. It was then that Kirk realized how Harold was able to survive after his encounter: arms made out of steel connected to his body, which connected to a steel band across his chest. Kirk had to assume that Harold’s missing leg was replaced as well, but could not tell at all looking at Harold’s outfit.

“Looks like I’m going to get a real treat,” Harold said. “Now I can see why that idiot wanted to fight you so badly. He’s just like a dumb animal, that one, but his bloodlust remains the same.”

Rysol gritted his teeth. His sword locked in between the blades of Harold’s daggers as he tried to push further. On the side, Kirk sat up and tried to tend to his wounds. They were deep, but there was still a chance he could come out of this with a chance of surviving. He just had to have faith in Rysol that their exit would come soon.

“You’re strong, I’ll give you that,” Harold said to Rysol.

Harold then backed off, which led Rysol to see a chance to strike. However, he hesitated with his attack as Harold grinned. Kirk could tell something was up, but in his current state, he was not able to discern what it was that bothered him. Rysol raised his sword once more while Harold did the same with his knives, the two ready for one more clash.

“I’m going to end this fight right here,” Rysol said. “Before you can even strike me, I’ll have my blade slash your throat.”

“I welcome it,” Harold replied. “Go ahead, Rysol… Go ahead and make your dear father proud.”

Rysol growled. “No more hesitation.”

He charged at Harold once more as the older man readied himself. Kirk could only watch as he still struggled to speak. The sound of the blades clashing rang through Kirk’s ears as he saw the sight before him unfold. He could not believe what had unfolded before him: Rysol sent reeling backward as his metal arm shattered into pieces while Harold twirled around the knife in his right hand. Rysol’s sword had also been broken, as half of the blade was sent flying past Kirk while the rest of the sword fell to the ground. The sheer impact made Rysol hit a nearby tree in a violent fashion, which was almost enough to render him unconscious. As Kirk lay on the ground, he saw Harold approach Rysol and grab his collar.

“If you thought you could deceive me, Rysol, then you’re as big a fool as that man you call your father,” Harold said, lifting Rysol up. “Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to kill you too. I’ll even do you a favor and make you suffer before I take your insignificant life!”

Only so much time existed before Harold could make due on his promise to Rysol. Kirk had to fight back, even as he bled and faced death. He had to fight or else everything he was working for would all be for naught. With his will to live strong, Kirk stood up and gripped the handle of his sword. He took one look at Harold, who was throttling Rysol by the tree, and slowly lifted his blade. Kirk’s chance stood before him.

“I’ll make you regret even thinking about betraying me!” Harold exclaimed as he threw a punch to Rysol’s face. “You’re going to die here as the weak willed insect that you are!”

Kirk took a step forward. Breathing became difficult as he coughed and fell to the ground, dropping his sword in the process. It was enough to draw Harold’s attention, however, as he let go of Rysol and walked over to Kirk.

“You don’t know when to die, do you?” Harold asked, placing his foot on Kirk’s back. “Your lungs have been punctured; your life should already be over by now, but I’d be glad to help you out!”

Everything began to grow dark as Kirk could not move due to the pressure placed on top of him. He had Harold pin him down and nowhere to go, as well as his sword being just out of reach. There was no way he would admit it, but Kirk had no way to fight back in his current state. All he had to hope for was some sort of chance, but even that did not come for him or Rysol. Kirk had no idea where Rysol was, but worrying about him was irrelevant now.

“I’m not done with you yet!” Rysol screamed.

As darkness enveloped Kirk’s sight, he could still hear Rysol fighting for his life. His fight with Harold continued as Kirk listened to the two fight. Their fight did not last long, though, as Rysol let out a remarkable, excruciating wail that no one could mistake.

“My arm… You bastard!” Rysol replied.

Harold laughed an unsettling laugh that shook Kirk. “I don’t know how, but you’ve managed to wound me,” he said. “Though it’s just a scratch, you’ve ruined one of my favorite suit pants. A truly terrible crime that I’ll make sure you’ll pay with your life!”

But before Harold made a move on Rysol, Kirk got up to his feet. He was in shock at how he was able to stand, given his condition, but it didn’t matter now. At the other end stood Rysol, who looked into Kirk’s eyes and understood in that instant what he was going to do next. As long as he took down Harold, it did not matter to Kirk if he lived or not. He had to protect Rysol and he did not need to breathe in order to do that. With his arm outstretched, Kirk searched all over the ground for his sword and found it close next to him. All he needed was one final opportunity to buy some time in order for Rysol to escape, and Kirk knew he had to make that happen.

“I see,” Harold said.

Kirk listened to Harold’s voice and figured out where he stood. Not too far away, Kirk thought. With everything riding on this final attack, Kirk trusted the sounds to guide him. Harold had already wounded him, so there was nothing to lose. Nothing could stop him anymore. At least, Kirk believed that he could not be stopped.

Harold grumbled. “What a shame,” he said. “Oh well, I’ll find him later. Right now, I’ve got to deal with you.”

Kirk rushed Harold with his sword held high. This would be the finishing blow that would kill Harold Mars once and for all. However, Harold began to laugh again as Kirk came to a halt.

“Do you not realize where you are?” Harold asked.  “I’ll be glad to send you falling to your doom off of Ahnle Peak!”

Thunder boomed into Kirk’s eardrums. The ensuing impact struck Kirk in the stomach as his feet lifted off the ground. He soon realized what had happened as he went flying into the air: Harold had landed the final blow. There was little that Kirk could do now that he was descending at a rapid pace.

“You’ll go crashing to your death,” Harold said to him. “Your efforts meant nothing to me, Kirk!”

Kirk continued to hold onto his life in vain. Nothing could make him admit defeat, not even his imminent death. All he could think about at a time like this was the people closest to him. He had to wonder if Rysol had escaped or not, but Kirk knew that he had been wounded. Harold made sure of that. Knowing Rysol, however, Kirk surmised that Rysol did indeed escape. Above all else, someone had to look out for Sorin now.

Which brought him to Sorin. Kirk regretted not telling Sorin about Rysol sooner, but also knew that he did not want to put his youngest son in danger. Yet he was in danger now, but Kirk could not do anything about his son’s dilemma. He had faith that Sorin would be able to right the wrongs against him and clear his name, but with Harold’s son around, that task would be difficult to achieve. Most of all, Kirk wished he had been able to see Sorin one last time, but that wish would go unfulfilled now that he was dying.

Kirk could not forget about Eva, too. Though their relationship was filled with its share of highs and lows, the time he spent with her was the happiest he had been in years. He wanted to see Eva smile one last time, but that was not going to happen. Kirk would never see her face again and he could never tell her that she was not at fault for his death. But he knew that she was strong, stronger than he was, though she did not want to say it. She meant a lot to Sorin as well, which was why Kirk felt even more regret.

Kirk’s one final regret, however, was that he was not able to avenge April and let her rest in peace. Harold orchestrated her killing and he had bested Kirk. Only darkness awaited Kirk now as his body landed into the rapids below. With all that had been done, Kirk had no idea how he was going to face April in the afterlife. All he could do now was let the darkness take him as he could not fight back against his fate any longer. The freezing water only served to speed up the process as Kirk could no longer hold onto life.


To be continued…


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Aurora – Chapter 23 (Part 2)

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


A calm, clear sky decorated by the fading light of descending sun served as a reminder to Sorin. It reminded him about the oncoming attack in Oelaans and the defense set up to stop it. He wondered if Korbin and his Blood Ravens would be there, but Sorin remembered that there was no chance that Korbin would miss out on the opportunity to cause some wanton destruction. Sorin had to believe that despite Korbin’s efforts, Thekohn would be able to hold its own against the inevitable onslaught brought on by the Ameci military. It was a strange feeling to consider the people of his homeland enemies, but Sorin had to believe that everything would work out. He had to keep believing that his name would be cleared and that Isaac and Foundation would be brought down. It was the only way to make everything right.

Sorin took a look at the buildings all over the kingdom. Many of them had already turned their lights on to compliment the illuminated lamp posts by the street. If there was one thing Sorin was happy about, it was that the calmness of the kingdom helped to serve as a contrast to the chaotic landscape that plagued the rest of the Thekohnian Region. Even with a mixed reaction to his presence whenever he walked through the city, there was no sense of hostility coming from the citizens. Some had come up to Sorin and asked if he really did kill the chancellor, while others were quick to assume that Sorin had no involvement whatsoever. Even though it meant little, Sorin was happy to be in a place where the animosity was little at best.

“You’re up here?” Eva asked.

Sorin turned around. At the top of the stairs stood Eva, who wore a thick coat as she walked over to Sorin. He watched as she decided to share the view of the city with him while she placed her hands into the pockets of her coat. The cold air was more apparent than before as Sorin reached for his scarf.

“You know, I bumped into Luna earlier,” Sorin said. “She asked about you, and I wasn’t sure how I could respond.”

“What did she ask you?”

“She just wanted to know how you’re doing,” Sorin replied.

“You couldn’t respond to that?” Eva asked.

“Well, it’s not like I didn’t say anything,” Sorin said. “All I said was that you were okay, that’s it.”

“If that’s all that you said, then I have no problem,” Eva said.

“If you say so,” Sorin said. “Although it seems Luna’s got a grasp of things even if she doesn’t know the full story.”

“Don’t tell me that you’re still worried about me,” Eva said. “I’ve told you not to feel that way. I’ll be okay.”

“I know, I know that,” Sorin said. “I’m not saying that I’m worried, though. I’m saying that Luna may be worried and if so, she’s only worried because she cares about you.”

“She barely knows me at all,” Eva replied. “Why would she even care about my well-being?”

“Because… Because whether you want to admit it or not, people do care about you,” Sorin said. “Everyone here cares because you are a good friend and an ally that we can depend on. You’ve trained me and even have an admirer in Mina.”

“Mina’s like that with almost everyone she meets,” Eva said. “I’m not that special or interesting.”

“Even if you don’t think that, Mina certainly does,” Sorin said. “And Gavin and Law consider you their friend, too.”

“They do, I guess…”

“Nobody here thinks less of you,” Sorin told her. “I know I don’t and I know that the others don’t, either.”

Eva sighed and pulled up the collar to her coat. “It really is quite cold,” she said. “Are you sure that you want to stay up here?”

“You came up here, too,” Sorin said. “Everybody else is sitting in the war room right now, so I just decided to get some air.”

“That makes two of us, then,” Eva said. “Sorin?”

“What is it?” Sorin asked.

“You’re not afraid, are you?” Eva asked.

“I mean, I am worried about what these people will do if we don’t try to stop them,” Sorin said.

“No, not that,” she said. “Are you afraid of dying?”

“Of course,” Sorin replied. “I think most people would say they’re afraid of dying. Um, may I ask you why you asked that?”

“I don’t know why I asked you that,” Eva replied. “It was a stupid question, just forget about it.”

“At this point, I don’t know if I should,” Sorin said.

“Forget it,” Eva said. “I’m going downstairs.”

Perplexed at Eva’s sudden decision to head back downstairs, Sorin decided that it was best to go down as well. They had to be prepared for anything, even if the chances of attack were low. Sorin, however, could not shake from his mind the ever increasing struggle that Eva seemed to be going through. Despite her best efforts, Eva had made it clear to Sorin that there was more to what she was saying. He wanted to know more, but with the situation as it was, Sorin could only wait until later to find out.




[24th of December, 2740 AD; base of Ahnle Peak, outside of Glora, Ahnlikohn]


Before he went into the forest, Kirk lit the lantern he purchased from a city merchant. The quiet rustle of leaves only made Kirk focus more on what he set out to do at Ahnle Peak, the tallest mountain in Ahnlikohn. He wondered if Rysol even climbed the mountain, but continued on regardless. If Kirk was able to save Rysol, then it would help turn things in his and Sorin’s favor. Without the use of a hostage, that would weaken Harold and help in the fight against Foundation. All Kirk had to do was find his son.

Kirk thought back to the time when Rysol was born. He could never forget the joyful look in his smile when April first held him in her arms as Kirk cracked a smile. There was a certain peace that Rysol had brought and Kirk hoped that he and April would be able to share that peace for many years to come, those years including Sorin as well. The painful remembrance only served to motivate Kirk further as walked deeper into the forest. As the light at his side helped illuminate the path forward, Kirk found a familiar figure not far off in the distance. Kirk continued to walk forward as the other man turned to face him.

“Rysol, is that you?” Kirk asked.

There was no response. Kirk moved ahead, only to stop as he heard a man’s voice come from further away. The deep, hostile voice boomed between the trees as Kirk stopped.

“So you’ve taken the bait,” Harold said. “It’s been quite a while, Kirk Wilk, but now the time has come.”

Kirk wasted no time in setting down his lantern and drew his sword. It was as he feared: Harold was alive and well. Somewhere around in the forest, Harold was waiting to strike. However, Rysol came closer and brandished his sword as Kirk set his sights forward.

“Isn’t it amazing?” Harold asked. “Now you will meet your end as the son you hold dearly will be the one to kill you.”

“Rysol, don’t listen to him,” Kirk said. “He’s using you!”

“It’s no use trying to reason with him now,” Harold replied. “Rysol isn’t the type that will listen to such weak willed words, especially not from you.”

“You lie,” Kirk said. “You’re lying, damn it!”

“I’ll be sure to finish things here,” Rysol said. “Don’t worry about me.”

“You can’t,” Kirk replied. “Listen to me, Rysol!”

Rysol pointed his blade at Kirk and took one step forward as Kirk lifted up his sword. Kirk refused to entertain the notion of fighting by Harold’s rules, yet still, he knew that he had to prepare for the worst. Knowing Harold, there was only the fear that his influence got to Rysol. Now Kirk had to convince Rysol himself, no matter what had happened. He was going to save him. Kirk had to save him. He was determined to make it right and put an end to Harold’s plans right here and now.

“You think he’ll listen to you?” Harold asked. “After so many long years of hardship and abandonment, you think he’d even want to come back to you? Don’t make me laugh, Kirk!”

“Show yourself,” Kirk said. “If you don’t, I’ll find you myself!”

“Perhaps you should learn to be careful with what wish for,” Harold said. “Now, Rysol! Kill him! Make him pay for what he’s done! Spill his blood!”

Kirk set his feet as he watched Rysol move like a swift wind. Rysol swung his sword down at Kirk, who defended himself and turned away Rysol without any hesitation. Something in Rysol’s attack signaled to Kirk that there was more to this fight. There was more to Rysol than he let on, and Kirk could tell that all from one attack.

“You really don’t want to fight me, do you?” Kirk asked.

“I can’t back down,” Rysol said. “I won’t do that!”

Rysol attacked once more with a horizontal swing, but Kirk moved away before the blade could hit him. Hesitation. There was hesitation in Rysol’s form. Kirk had hope that he would be able to get through to Rysol now that he knew that his son was fighting with uncertainty.

“I can see it in how you swing your sword,” Kirk said. “You’re holding back because you don’t want to kill me… I knew that you wouldn’t fall so easily for his tricks.”

“Damn it, I can’t afford to fail, I just can’t,” Rysol said. “Why the hell did you even come here!?”

Again, Rysol darted at Kirk and swung at him without regard. Rysol’s out of control movements were easy to predict for Kirk, who could see each swing come down at him. Kirk continued to dodge each attack until he found an opening. As Rysol left himself open, Kirk breathed in. Now he had his chance to put the final end to Harold’s attempts at madness and trickery.

“Rysol, there’s no need to fear Harold anymore,” Kirk said, “I will take care of him myself.”

With his free hand, Kirk reached out and seized Rysol’s dominant arm by his wrist. The two swords were close to one another, suspended as Kirk looked in Rysol’s eyes. A warrior with fear in his heart, Rysol had been taken by surprise at Kirk’s calm motion and dropped his sword to the ground.

“I won’t allow you to come under any more harm,” Kirk told Rysol. “I hope you can hear me, Harold, because now I’m going to find you and deal with you myself.”

There was no response from Harold. Rysol continued to look Kirk in the eyes until he could no longer do so, turning away as he attempted to pull himself free from Kirk’s grasp.

“Let me go,” Rysol said. “Let me go!”

“Of course,” Kirk replied, releasing Rysol from his grip.

Rysol hurried as he picked his sword up from the ground and looked at Kirk again. Kirk continued to remain calm as he knew that Rysol would not attack him. There was no chance now that he knew what Rysol would bring. Kirk kept his sword out, but lowered it as he looked at Rysol and formed a small smile on his face. He had this confrontation under control and now he was headed for Harold once Rysol gave himself up.

“Harold has caused you a lot of pain and deception,” Kirk said. “It’s easy to see why you may have been influenced by him, but I won’t allow that to happen as long as I can still fight. Just sheath your sword, Rysol. That’s all you need to do now that I’m here.”

“You don’t… You don’t understand, father,” Rysol replied. “I’m not fighting because I want to kill you… I don’t want to kill you.”

“I know that you don’t,” Kirk said.

“Harold… he’s evil,” Rysol said. “I can’t… I can’t do this!”

Rysol then turned away from Kirk in the opposite direction and proceeded to head deeper into the forest. Kirk uttered a quiet growl as he knew Harold was still trying to control Rysol with fear. There was no other choice now for Kirk; he had to follow after Rysol if he wanted to save him. A deep laughter filled Kirk’s ears as he sprinted after his son.

“Look what you’ve done,” Harold said. “You’ve gone and ruined my plans again, Kirk.”

“I’ll never allow your plans to succeed,” Kirk said. “I know you’re around here somewhere, which I will put a stop to you before you can cause any more trouble!”

Harold laughed again. “I’m afraid it’s already too late,” he said. “Rysol isn’t far away from me now… You’re a fool to believe that you can kill me, Kirk!”

Kirk ignored Harold and continued onward. There was no telling if what Harold said was true, but Kirk chose not to focus on what was said but rather what Rysol was doing. He could not have gone far, Kirk thought. The pursuit soon turned into a climb, however, as Kirk found himself ascend up the mountain on the way to Ahnle Peak. With each step, Kirk began to feel the toll the steep path brought him. However, he found another spaced area surrounded by trees as he placed the lantern down once more and saw Rysol standing in the middle trying to catch his breath. Kirk withdrew his sword as he made his way to Rysol and spread out his arms.

“I won’t attack you,” Kirk said. “You have my word, Rysol.”

“Why… did you follow me?” Rysol asked.

“Because I care about you,” Kirk replied. “I care about you enough to chase after you and sacrifice myself should the need arise.”

“You truly are stupid,” Harold said. “But that is the will of you Wilks. The will of a man that’s already resigned to his fate!”

Kirk got into a defensive stance. He looked around as the darkness of the forest only served to benefit Harold. Even with the lantern as his side, Kirk had no response for the endless amount of shadow that Harold chose to hide under. It was a cowardly method, one that fit Harold well, but helped him all the same. That Harold could use a spineless trick to use against Rysol made Kirk fear for what would happen next. He looked to Rysol once more and saw him hunched over catching his breath. Harold had to be close now, judging from the moving shadows near Rysol’s side. With his sword out, Kirk charged in Rysol’s direction without a second thought.

“Rysol!” Kirk exclaimed. “Run!”

Rysol turned and saw Kirk head toward him. But before he could move, the leaves on the trees rustled. It happened all too fast. Kirk stopped short of two feet away from Rysol, the tip of his blade mere inches from his face. Kirk stopped in place as he soon registered what had taken place. Two sharp pains entered in his back and out of his chest, which soon became unbearable as Kirk began to cough up a copious amount of blood. He could not even breathe as he looked down and saw more red. The laugh echoed louder than ever before as Kirk wanted to look behind, but he already knew who it was that had stabbed him.


To be continued…


Previous | Next Chapter

Aurora – Chapter 23 (Part 1)

[24th of December, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Inside Thedam Castle Queen’s Office]


Everybody moved around the room, shuffling to gather their papers as the announcement from the royal lieutenant general caused a stir. Rain received word that the part of the Ameci military had already begun to advance toward Oelaans and now she had to respond. Several soldiers had been dispatched to the city, but Rain worried that it would not be enough to hold the opposing forces back. As she placed both hands on the table and leaned forward, Rain looked to Rado, Ayanna, and Reiss for advice.

“What do you think we should do?” Rain asked Rado.

“We trust our soldiers,” Rado said. “They along with the Thekohnian forces will hold up Oelaans before the enemy has a chance.”

“I don’t doubt their ability,” Rain said, “But I know that our enemy will be fighting with everything they’ve got. They’ll use any trick in the book if they have to and I’m worried that our best may not be good enough.”

“We shouldn’t have to worry,” Ayanna said. “They may attack first, but we possess the advantage.”

Gavin glanced over at Johan. “You said that they’d attack us first,” he said, “So explain to me why they’re leading an assault on Oelaans as we speak!”

“It’s not a good idea to shoot your messenger,” Johan said. “As I’ve said to you, this is what I’ve learned from one of my crew. He’s the one who learned of Ameci’s intents and he wouldn’t lie to me.”

“Now you’re just trying to pass off the blame,” Gavin replied. “Quit fucking around already!”

“I did say they would lead an attack on Thekohn, didn’t I?” Johan asked. “I have only said the truth to you all. They’re attacking because they know I’m here and want to bring down the kingdom in the process.”

“Then do something about it, asshole,” Gavin said.

“I’ve done everything that I could,” Johan said. “I’ve already exposed Isaac Kunigunde and Foundation for the threats that they are. What happens now is all up to you.”

Gavin jumped up to his feet. “You’ve done jack shit for us! I ought to kick your ass right here, shithead!”

“Gavin, calm down,” Gale said. “It’s pointless to get mad at him when we have much more to worry about.”

“I didn’t say I was done,” Johan said. “I said ‘what happens now,’ not what happens in the future. If you want to keep listening to me, then I’d be happy to help you out.”

“You’ve already proven how valuable you are,” Rain said. “I can’t thank you any more for that, Johan.”

“Well, I’m happy you think so, Your Majesty,” Johan said. “I knew I wasn’t wrong about you.”

“Great, let’s just keep moving,” Gavin said. “I don’t really care anymore, so let’s think about what we’re going to do next.”

“It’d be best for us if we stayed with Rain,” Gale said. “We have to protect the kingdom, after all.”

“There’s a lot that needs to be done here,” Jelka said. “If you hold them off at Oelaans, then there’s little need to worry about here.”

“But we should prepare for the worst, in any case,” Ayanna replied. “As it stands right now, we’re defending ourselves. As long as we can do that, we will be able to start the counterattack.”

“Right, that’s our next objective,” Rain said.

Being in command of a strong military was a new concept for Rain, as was the fact that she was fighting against an enemy military. This was the one thing that she was trying to avoid but as it stood, Rain had no choice but to exercise the use of that military force. What she hoped for next is that the conflict would be resolved sooner rather than later.

“So we’re ready,” Rado said. “Oelaans is secured and they will hold the line until the next move.”

“If that’s the case, then we’ll head out,” Johan said. “Jelka and I must meet with one of our allies tonight; he may have even more valuable information that could be of use to you.”

“Just go already, then,” Gavin said.

“If you learn anything new, then please don’t hesitate to inform us,” Rain said. “I am surprised you want to leave so soon, however.”

“Well, it’s like I told Sorin, Your Majesty,” Johan replied. “Actually, I should just drop the formalities, shouldn’t I? You’re Sorin’s friend, and anyone who’s a friend of his is definitely someone I can trust.”

Rain cracked a smile. “That’s very nice of you.”

“Thank you, Rain,” Johan said. “Anyway, there’s no real point in me trying to stay in one place for too long, especially since the Ameci government is after me. Of course, I don’t intend to lose anytime soon, so they still have a long way to go before they can catch up to me.”

“Let’s just hope you’re right,” Gale said.

“As do I,” Johan said. “Well, Jelka and I are off. See ya.”

With that being said, Johan turned and left the room. Jelka then looked to Rain and bowed.

“I must thank you for taking the time to listen to us,” Jelka said. “I promise that we will return soon.”

“Please, I should be thanking you,” Rain said.

“You’re too humble,” Jelka replied. “But I suppose that that’s why you are so highly regarded in the kingdom.”

Jelka then said her goodbyes and followed Johan outside. There was little for Rain to do now that the plan was in place to defend Oelaans and Thekohn against the oncoming attack. Rain was fortunate to have people like Johan and Jelka on her side, even if they were seen as enemies by other people. As she began to think about what to do now, Sorin, Mina, and Eva entered the office once more.

“Ah, you’re done training with Dierk, I take it?” Rain asked Mina.

“Not exactly,” Mina replied. “Sorin and Eva came by and everything just kinda went in a different direction.”

“It’s not important,” Eva said. “What is important is that it looks like you made a lot of progress.”

“Indeed, we discussed a lot,” Rain said. “Now that we know what their next move is, we’re ready to lead a counterattack. That is, once we successfully defend Oelaans of course.”

“Oelaans?” Sorin asked. “I thought they were attacking here first.”

“There was a mixup,” Rain replied.

“Johan screwed up, apparently,” Gavin said. “It doesn’t matter, though. We know that they’re planning to strike tonight.”

“So they’re going to attack the city when it’s at its most vulnerable,” Mina said. “I should’ve expected them to go low, but to attack a sleeping city? It’s just unforgivable!”

“We’ve taken care of it,” Rado said. “Soldiers already wait at the city limits. They’ll do everything to hold strong and win.”

“And just in case the enemy forces try to pull another trick on us and come straight to here, we’re ready,” Ayanna said. “Reiss and I have organized a select group of former Iiayi soldiers who are ready to defend the kingdom.”

“And what about our other allies?” Eva asked. “Is Khadir going to be joining in as well?”

“I’ve spoken with him and he says he cannot at this time,” Rain answered. “That’s not to say he won’t support us in the future, however.”

“He seems to be busy with home,” Rado said. “There’s a lot he must do, I imagine.”

“It’s not a position he wanted to be in,” Rain said. “He’s adapting in his role as the temporary President of Maeitakohn but I know that, once he is able to do so, he’ll help us. Until then, we wait for tonight.”

“What do we do in the meantime?” Gale asked.

“Prepare,” Rado replied. “We shouldn’t be stupid. Small chance of failure is still a chance.”

“And that’s why I’ve got to kick some asses,” Gavin said, standing up. “First I’m going to find Lawrence. Second, I’m gonna go meet with these Iiayi soldiers. If there’s anything to teach them, it’s to focus on what’s ahead of them as well as behind them.”

“In that case, I’ll go with you,” Ayanna said.

“I was expecting you to say that,” Gavin said. He uttered a small chuckle and pointed at Sorin. “As for you, your ass is still on the line, so you should stay out of this one.”

“It wasn’t like I was going to go anywhere,” Sorin replied.

“I suppose I’ll stay here with Mr. Liffe,” Reiss said.

“What about you, Mina?” Sorin asked.

“I’d love to go, but I know I should stay here, too,” Mina said. “After all, I’ve got to show you some of my new moves!”

“Well, a lot of people would love to see them,” Rain said. “Eva… You’re not going to stay, are you?”

Eva brushed back part of her hair with her hand as she breathed a heavy sigh. “I’m staying here,” she said. “Rado is right: a small chance of failure is still a chance and I’m going to make sure that we don’t fail our task by staying here with all of you.”

“Then I welcome your support,” Rain said. “Everyone, thank you once again. I don’t know what I’d do without your help.”

Everyone responded with assurance as Rain knew she was happy to have friends like these. Without them, there was no telling what would have happened on her journey and eventual ascension to the throne. But now there was no time to reflect as nightfall approached with each passing minute. Rain and the others would have to get ready soon for the attack and there was no room for error on Rain’s part.




[24th of December, 2740 AD; Glora Bus Station, Glora, Ahnlikohn – Erithacus District]


It had taken over two hours to arrive by bus, but now Kirk was in Glora. He had to know for sure if what he heard was true. Kirk had to know whether or not Rysol was somewhere in the city. After a few minutes of asking the people around the local area, Kirk found no answers. He had to remain diligent, though, as Rysol was his reason for coming to Glora and in the mix was Harold Mars. Harold was the one who was responsible for Rysol’s disappearance and April’s death, and Kirk was certain that if Rysol was in Glora, then the chance of Harold trailing after him was high.

“Sir, have I seen you around?”

Kirk looked up and saw a young male Ahnlikohnian soldier standing in front of him. He had to wonder if the soldier recognized him, as Kirk guessed there was little chance of any ordinary person carrying a sword like the one he had at his side. Still, the soldier’s question had no authority behind it, nor were there any hints of malicious intent.

“Can I help you?” Kirk asked.

The soldier eyed the hilt of Kirk’s sword. “That blade you have there must be pretty good,” he said. “You’re not from here, I take it?”

Kirk chuckled and shrugged. “How did you know?”

“It was just a guess,” he replied. “I thought I had seen someone similar to you earlier today, or at least that long hair, which is why I asked you.”

“I see,” Kirk said. “Where was this, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“I’m not sure I can tell you that,” the soldier said. “There’s a whole lot of things that are important and I don’t know if I should be telling a traveler some of this stuff—”

“You don’t have to tell me,” Kirk interrupted. “I can obviously tell that I’m not the guy you should be looking for.”

The soldier nodded. “That’s true,” he said. “I guess it wouldn’t make sense, seeing as this person was heading towards Ahnle Peak, whereas you’re here in the city talking to me!”

“And I suppose that he’s checking out the sights,” Kirk said. “There is a lot to do in this part of the country from what I’ve heard.”

“So you’ve been reading the papers, haven’t you?”

“I know that there’s been a lot going on in recent days,” Kirk replied. “In fact, some may say that there’s still a lot yet to happen.”

“You’re telling me,” the soldier said. “Things have been stressful ever since Prince Amile was arrested.”

“Well, it’s put a toll on the queen,” Kirk said. “But I’m sure that you’ve got much that you need to do besides talk with random strangers, so I’ll just go ahead and leave you be, okay?”

“Absolutely, sir,” the soldier replied. “I’m sorry for bothering you!”

“Don’t be, you did a good job,” Kirk said.

He walked away from the soldier and continued onward. Ahnle Peak. Kirk had to wonder why Rysol was headed there but if there was anything to go by, then Harold indeed loomed close. Even if he was hiding, Harold posed a threat and Kirk knew that he had to finish the job. It went against everything he stood for for the past eighteen years, all back to when he made a promise to April that he would never kill again, but this was an exception. No way would Kirk ever let Harold draw breath the next time they faced again, not as long as Kirk held his sword in his hand.


To be continued…


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Aurora – Chapter 22 (Part 2)

[24th of December, 2740 AD; Quiet Falcon Train Station, Helm, Ahnlikohn]


Kirk hopped off the train and onto the platform nearby. He had made it to Ahnlikohn without much delay and now had another hour long break before he had to head off to Iiayikohn. He looked around the train station as people quietly kept to themselves as he went to the lobby.

“Seems everyone here is still reeling,” he said.

He was certain about the fact that the impact left by Foundation was sure to be felt by the people of Ahnlikohn, but to see it up close was a different story. Kirk had come through Helm in the past before and each time he found the people to be friendly and inviting. Anywhere he went, Kirk was sure to bump into someone who was willing to greet him and tell him stories about the locale. Now, however, all appeared to be quiet as distrust loomed in the air. Kirk could see a few people give him strange looks as he picked up a map and opened it.

“I have to stop him,” Kirk said. “What he’s done is unforgivable.”

As Kirk took a seat, however, an old woman approached him up front. He looked up from his map and caught her staring at him, though her forest green earmuffs caught his attention as well.

“Can I help you, ma’am?” Kirk asked.

“You… You couldn’t be him,” the forest green old woman said. “Your hair matches his, but you look much older than the description.”

“Tell me,” Kirk said.

“That man they say killed the chancellor, what was his name? You wouldn’t happen to know, would you?”

Kirk shook his head. “I can’t help you there, ma’am,” he said. “I’m waiting for the next train, that’s all.”

The old woman adjusted her earmuffs. “You really don’t know, do you? Oh well.”

“I’m just going through here, that’s it,” Kirk said. “I don’t have any clues about this man you’re talking about.”

“Well, you must’ve heard the news, right?”

“That I did,” Kirk replied. “I’m not sure what you’re trying to say.”

“They say he was spotted up in Glora earlier,” the old woman said. “I don’t know it if it’s true, but maybe he feels guilty about what he’s done.”

“He was there?” Kirk asked. “Impossible…”

“What was that?”

“Nothing,” Kirk said. “You say he was in Glora today?”

“Yes, that’s what I’ve heard,” she replied. “The description matches him down to the last little bit: tall, long hair, and bearded! Couldn’t mistake him for anyone else! Well, I guess I did with you earlier, but you’d forgive me, wouldn’t you?”

As the old woman laughed, Kirk began to think. Was it Rysol? No, there was no way it could be him. Unless there was more to this story, Kirk had to dismiss it. He had no reason to believe what the old woman told him was true, but what if it was? As he thought about it more and more, Kirk wondered if he should head to Glora in order to investigate. But he had to make sure of his idea first.

“Where did you hear this from, anyway?” Kirk asked.

“Oh, I heard it from one of the officers,” she answered.

Kirk put down the map. “You are certain of that?”

“I may be old, but I’m not forgetful, dear,” the old woman said. “Nor would I lie to you. Heck, I don’t even know you!”

“Thank you, ma’am,” Kirk said.

“Why, you’re welcome,” she said. “I knew good people like you still existed in this world!”

Kirk thanked her once more and stood up. He put the map back where he found it and headed outside of the train station. There was no telling what waited for him in Glora, but now Kirk needed to see for himself. If he was going to get closer to finding Rysol and, in the process, Harold, then Kirk needed to act on his notion and take the next ride to the great city to the north.

“Even if it’s just a chance, I have to take it,” Kirk said. “If you’re out there up in Glora, Rysol, then wait for me! I’ll help both you and Sorin out!”




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


It did not take Sorin long for him to find Eva. She was looking out over the balcony when he entered. Sorin tried to enter without making much of a noise, but she was quick to notice his entrance.

“I thought I told you not to follow me,” Eva said. “Forget it. What’s the point if you don’t even listen?”

“Eva, please listen to me,” Sorin said.

“What are you going to say to me this time?” Eva asked. “Did Mina come with you, too?”

“No, I didn’t ask her to,” he replied. “I came here on my own because I care about you. You’re my friend.”

“You really think I’m your friend?”

“I’d like to think so, Eva,” Sorin said. “I don’t know exactly what it is that you’re going through, to be honest, but I can’t continue to sit by and let you beat yourself up.”

“Surely you can understand it when I say ‘leave me alone,’ don’t you,” Eva said, which she followed up with a sigh. “You really are just like him, I swear to god…”

“What is it?” Sorin asked.

“You want to help, but I’ve already told you that I don’t need it,” Eva said. “I don’t understand why the two of you are so god damned stubborn when it comes to listening to others.”

“Regardless, there’s no turning back,” Sorin said. “There is more at stake than just us. Rain is doing her best to lead, even with the weight of everything on her back, and she needs our support. I think that’s why my father decided to head out, because I know he wouldn’t leave us without a good reason.”

“I don’t doubt his intentions,” Eva replied. “I’m worried because I… I guess I’m worried because I fear the worst.”

It was then that Eva explained to Sorin about her fears. After the battle in Bel, Kirk had suffered a minor injury to his ankle. He had promised to Eva that he would not fight again, but she had a feeling deep in the back of her mind that that wish would wait for a while. Kirk was older than he was when Eva first met him, and she had been through loss as well. Even when they had returned to Ameci, the nightmares did not go away as Eva found it difficult to live peacefully with Kirk. Yet still, Eva found herself in a difficult position of not wanting to lose Kirk versus her desire of not wanting to be alone.

“You’re not alone,” Sorin said. “You have everyone here and I’m sure they’d all sing praises about you.”

“They all mean well, I’m sure, but I can’t accept it,” Eva said.

“Why not?” Sorin asked.

“Because I don’t deserve it,” she replied. “I don’t want them to worry about me; in fact, I think it’d be best if they didn’t think about me at all.”

“Please don’t say that,” Sorin said.

“Why? It’s true,” Eva said. “In my life, the people who’ve shown generosity toward me usually end up injured or dead. Especially the people I’ve cared for… Their deaths still haunt me, even now.”

“It’s not your fault,” Sorin replied. “You had nothing to do with their deaths, so please don’t blame yourself.”

“As much as I want to believe that, I… I don’t think I can,” Eva said. “I wish I could be done with this, but I know I can’t rest until this is over. Not as long as Isaac Kunigunde is still around. As long as that man continues to walk freely, I’ll have to keep fighting.”

“You don’t have to fight,” Sorin said.

“Do you doubt me?” Eva asked. “I will waste no time making sure that Isaac pays for his crimes. He and Dezine were behind Alan’s death and I want nothing more than to finish them off myself.”

“I don’t doubt you,” Sorin replied. “As your friend, I’m worried about you. I don’t want to see you get hurt, much like I don’t want my father to get hurt.”

“I won’t get hurt,” Eva said. “I’ve fought many battles over the years and have survived each one. Losing isn’t an option to me.”

“But if that’s the case, then maybe it’s better to sit this one out,” Sorin said. “Not once have I ever doubted you, but I know you must be going through a lot right now.”

“Thank you for being concerned, but I’m not going to quit,” Eva replied. “If there’s only one thing I’m good at, it’s swordfighting. I’m not going to put down my blade just because you feel worried about me.”

Sorin knew that he was not going to win the argument. “Okay, I got it,” he said. “I won’t press you on it anymore.”

“Good,” Eva said. “I do feel a lot better now.”

“You do?”

“I guess I just had some stuff I had to get off my chest,” Eva said. “I’m still worried about Kirk, but even he’s not stubborn enough to throw himself into a fight that he can’t win.”

“He’ll be back soon,” Sorin said. “He’s gone so many years on his own, that I’m sure this is a breeze to him.”

“And like a breeze, Mighty Mina enters spectacularly!” Mina exclaimed. “Here I am!”

Sorin and Eva looked out to the balcony entrance. Mina stood in between the open doors as she pumped her fist into the air and struck a pose.

“How long have you been there?” Eva asked Mina.

“Oh, I just got here,” Mina answered. “Why do you ask?”

Eva shook her head. “It’s nothing.”

“Were you looking for us?” Sorin asked.

“Of course I was,” Mina said. “I was looking for you for a few minutes, then I got an idea and looked in the upstairs hallway! It was then that I found you two out here!”

“Well, you found us,” Sorin said.

“Oh, that’s right,” Mina said. “There was something else I needed to tell you about. Actually, can you two keep a secret?”

“We can do that,” Eva replied.

“I guess I really don’t need to ask Sorin,” Mina said. “Well, it’s about Ayanna and Law. I was busy getting something to eat when I overheard them and I could have sworn I heard them talking about marriage!”

Eva sighed. “That’s just Law,” she said. “He probably said it out of nowhere just to get a reaction out of her.”

“Well, no, it was Ayanna who brought it up first,” Mina replied. “Law was the one who sounded shocked!”

“Law was the one who got caught off guard?” Sorin asked. “That’s news to me.”

“I kind of didn’t want to listen because it’s not nice to eavesdrop,” Mina said, “But I didn’t want to get up from where I was sitting, so I was listening either way.”

“It can’t be helped,” Eva said. “Anyway, we have time to ask them later once we’re done planning.”

“You’re right,” Mina said. “Let’s go downstairs and meet with the others! I’m sure Rain’s got something good planned that will help us win!”

There was a sense of relief from Sorin that they were about to head down, but he knew that there was something to Eva that he just could not shake. He had no clue how to tackle the problem directly, but Sorin had to keep it in mind. Until then, though, all Sorin could do was see what Rain had planned.




[24th of December, 2740 AD; Thekohnian Border, outside of Thekohn]


The base camp was set up several miles from Oelaans. Korbin looked to both Bradley and Erik as they were fully aware of what they were about to do. After the events in Glora, now was the time to strike once more, this time on the city of Oelaans. It was sure to attract the attention of the kingdom, which Korbin knew would draw out his target. As the three loaded up their weapons, Bradley chuckled as he looked at the sky above Oelaans through his binoculars.

“It’s a nice view, isn’t it?” Bradley asked.

“They got a view?” Korbin asked as he took the binoculars from Bradley and saw for himself. “What are you talking about? It’s the same boring shit we saw before!”

“Not after we’re done with it,” Bradley said. “We’re going to send a message to the queen on behalf of Isaac. Make her know the real meaning of fear and whatnot, you got it?”

“That’s a good idea to me,” Erik said. “Well, the rest of the guys look ready. Want to rally the boys, Korbin?”

Korbin put down the binoculars and turned to the mass of soldiers behind him. They had been given a generous amount of soldiers to join their side and Korbin knew that they could not waste their chance. He had to get them riled up and ready to go for the attack. That was when Korbin cracked a smile and began to laugh.

“You ready, motherfuckers?” Korbin asked the soldiers. “We’re gonna go all out and make our presence known!”

He was met with a roaring response. Korbin knew then he had his moment and had the soldiers at his will. This was going to satisfy him, Korbin thought to himself, as he raised his fist to the air with his thumb and pinky extended. Now Korbin was ready.

“Repeat after me,” Korbin said, “Long live the Blood Ravens!”

And like that, the soldiers repeated his words.

“You’re catching on fast, Korb,” Bradley said. “Anything else you want to say to them before we strike tonight?”

Korbin grinned. “We won’t stop until the entire city of Oelaans is in ash,” he said. “Hell, we won’t stop until the entire kingdom is burned to the ground! Who’s with me!?”

The raucous response was music to Korbin’s ears. He had the backing of not only the Ameci military, but Foundation as well. And with Iiayikohn now at their side, Korbin was sure to impress. He would face off again with Sorin in no time, that much he was certain of as he looked to his newly built arm. As the roars of the soldier’s continued on, Korbin looked to Oelaans once more.


To be continued…


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Aurora – Chapter 21 (Part 2)

[24th of December, 2740 AD; Oelaans Outer City Park, Oelaans, Thekohn – Lynx District]


Kirk tightened the buttons on his coat as he looked towards the country’s border. He left Thedam Castle early and made a few preparations before heading to the bus station. Though he had some regrets about leaving the royal kingdom on such a short notice, Kirk knew that he had to go alone without anyone trying to stop him. That was why he had written that letter to Henry and made sure that he would not tell anyone about it unless he was asked to do so. Most of all, Kirk wanted to make sure that Sorin would not get involved with this matter; after all, this was Kirk’s mission. Sorin was busy trying to clear his own name, while Kirk had a more pressing issue to take care of in the meantime.

“If I’m lucky, I can get there just after nightfall,” Kirk said. “If my hunch is correct, then he should be there as well.”

He still had a way to go, but Kirk had to make it back to Iiayikohn before he could do anything else. At the least, Kirk could think out his next move without any interference. He had the feeling that who he was chasing after would be in the country, though Kirk had to pinpoint Harold’s location first. For now, though, Kirk waited for the next train to Helm to arrive; the last time Kirk checked the schedule, however, he saw that the train would not arrive for another hour. Until then, he had another fifty minutes to spare and devise his next move.

“I have to consider that he’s hiding in the darkness, waiting for me,” Kirk said. “But I can’t wait any longer. As long as Rysol remains captive, I can’t just let Harold get away with this.”

He had passed the duty onto Sorin a while ago, but Kirk knew that he could not do it now. Despite the fact that he was not getting younger, Kirk continued to remain confident in his abilities as he flexed his fingers. He was going to have to be sharper than usual against his enemy, because Kirk had the feeling that Harold did not slack off over the years. He could not afford to underestimate his enemy, no matter how damaged Harold was. Harold, after all, had plenty of connections and would not be afraid to challenge Kirk with a barrage of soldiers if he chose to do so. Even now, with Harold lacking his arms and his leg, he still had the brains to engineer a devious plan just in case.

Kirk, however, knew that by doing this, he would leave Eva to worry and he knew that he did not want that to happen. But for now, Kirk had to betray her. He had to, if he wanted to secure a future for her and everyone else. He did not want to say it out loud, but Kirk was willing to put everything on the line for her and for his sons, even if it ended up costing him. Though he was certain that he would come out victorious, Kirk had to fight like he was cornered with no means of escape. That was how he would win in the end, and how he had won against Harold in the past.

“She would understand eventually, I know it,” Kirk said to himself. “This is just something that I have to do alone… Eva, please forgive me…”

His thoughts went to no one, but Kirk continued to think about her. Though sometimes she and him would disagree, Kirk loved Eva as much as he could. She had been there for him during his darkest hours, and he for her as she had lost people close to her. Tragedies had brought the two together, but Kirk knew that he and Eva were going to earn their happiness. He would help to defeat the evil that only served to create more tragedy, and make sure the rest of the world would receive peace as well.

Kirk looked up and around, finally, and hurried over to the train station. He had to wonder if enough time had passed for the train to arrive, but when he looked at the station clock, there were still forty-five minutes until the top of the hour. Dejected, Kirk took a seat on the bench and reached into his bag. With only himself to pass the time with, Kirk decided to read the kingdom’s newspaper. It was then that he realized that the winter festival was close. He had to wonder if Rain would still have the festival take place, given what has happened. It would certainly take some time before the wounds of Glora and Ahnlikohn healed, and more time for the relationship with the kingdom to heal. That just made Kirk’s mission even more important, he thought.

“Everyone’s hurting,” he muttered. “Even the queen herself; she won’t say it, but she’s been feeling it worst of all.”




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


When Sorin got back to the castle with Eva, they were both surprised at who was waiting for them in the main hall. It had been a couple of days since the attacks in Glora when he last saw the two, but Sorin was glad to see that both his friends were okay. Sorin took a few steps forward and greeted the two while Eva decided to stand by the door. He almost forgot why he had left in the first place, but realized that Johan was not here to reunite.

“It’s nice to see that you care, buddy,” Johan said. “I take it that you were out in the cold looking for someone?”

“Uh, yes, I was,” Sorin replied. “You didn’t happen to see my father before you got here, did you?”

Johan ran his fingers through his own hair. “I wish I could say that I did,” he said, “But I hate getting my friend’s hopes up. Instead, I’ve gained some good information that I’m sure the queen would love to hear from me.”

“You’ve got information?” Eva asked. “You’re not going to try and extort the queen, are you?”

“Just what kind of guy do you think I am, Eva Bellamy?” Johan asked. “Why would I ever want to do that to a friend of Sorin’s? By the way, Eva, you look quite attractive today.”

“I don’t have time to play these kinds of games with you,” Eva said. “Tell us what information you have already or don’t.”

“Seems I’m already pretty popular around here,” Johan replied. “First it was Gavin, now it’s you. Oh well, I’m not here to steal anyone’s heart.”

“Johan, please, if you will,” Sorin said.

“Well, we’ve got two big pieces of some good news,” Johan said. “Of course they’re both related, so it really doesn’t matter which one you pick because it all leads down the same path.”

“The Ameci military is planning an attack on Thekohn soon,” Jelka said. “It will be on Oelaans and will happen two days from now.”

“On Oelaans?” Sorin asked.

“It’s the prime route between the kingdom and the rest of the Thekohnian Region,” Johan said. “They intend to cut you guys off and corner you. Well, that is if you don’t count the wastelands.”

“Yet the wastelands are hard to traverse on their own,” Jelka said. “Going through such a place is unwise.”

The Thekohnian Wastelands were to the east of the kingdom. Though it sat many kilometers away from the kingdom, Sorin knew that the wastelands were the long connecting path back around to Ameci, Oci, and Elemci. Traveling by foot was not an option as the wasteland spanned nearly twice the length of Iiayikohn, Ahnlikohn, and Maeitakohn combined. The better option was to drive by car or truck, but Sorin had heard that doing that was only better in the sense that placing one’s hand on a hot stove was better than lighting one’s hand on fire. Thus, it would make sense to leave through other means, the main one being through Oelaans and the other through the south towards Maeitakohn. That was why Sorin had his concerns.

“But, I’ve also found out that they’re planning to strike this kingdom first,” Johan said. “Sometime sooner than Oelaans, which would be between now and two days from now.”

“Wait, so which one’s the good news?” Sorin asked.

“You lied to us again,” Eva said. “How the hell are we supposed to interpret either one as good news?”

“Well, I did say that they were both related,” Johan said. “I didn’t lie there and I didn’t lie when I said this was good news. You have valuable information at your hands and you’re choosing to get angry with me over it?”

“I’m not angry at all, Johan,” Sorin replied. “But I think it’d be best for us if you told Rain yourself, because I don’t really want to break any sort of bad news to her.”

Johan chuckled and put two fingers to his left temple. “Sorin, Sorin, Sorin… Buddy, you’re looking for strategies to take down Foundation and Isaac, and this is quite possibly the best I can give you,” he said. “They’re going to attack, yes, but we know that they’re going to attack. It doesn’t matter how many soldiers they send, right? Just have an effective counter and hold the line.”

“Can we trust what you’re telling us?” Eva asked.

“Trust me or don’t,” Johan said, “But I don’t do things for my own sake, I do it because someone has to stop this world from falling into the wrong hands. All that I say is for Sorin’s benefit, which extends to the rest of you.”

Eva looked to Jelka. “I suppose you believe him, too?”

“I trust him,” Jelka answered. “That is something I would never have said not even six months ago.”

“If I was going to turn on you guys, Eva, then I wouldn’t have come here in the first place,” Johan said. “I risked a lot to come to the kingdom, given my status at the moment. I can’t even go see my own mother… Surely you must know how it feels not to see the ones you love, let alone having the fear of losing them plague your mind.”

Eva took a moment to respond, but not before she left out a reluctant sigh. “All right, I believe you,” she said. “You’re the most wanted man in Ameci now, so coming to meet us is a huge risk for you. And I obviously can’t ignore those words about your mother, either…”

“I’ve done my work,” Johan said. “I don’t have the time to make up stuff for fun, nor do I have much time for anything that isn’t involved with bringing down Isaac Kunigunde and Foundation.”

Jelka placed a hand on Johan’s shoulder. “But for now, we do have time to relax,” she said, “That is, after we meet with Queen Thedam first.”

“Rain should still be in the meeting room,” Sorin said. “We’ll catch up with you in a bit.”

Johan removed Jelka’s hand from his shoulder. “Take your time,” he said. “I have a lot that I need to say to her, anyway.”

As Sorin watched Johan walk with Jelka to the meeting room, he could not help but notice how the two interacted with one another. With the two holding hands and Johan managing to make Jelka smile, a rare sight for anyone to behold, Sorin had a feeling about what happened between the two, but chose not to bring it up. His thoughts were soon broken up by Eva, who tapped him on the arm in order to get his attention.

“What is it?” Sorin asked.

“Come on,” Eva said.

“Where are we going?” Sorin asked. “I thought we were going with Johan and Jelka.”

“Did you forget why you followed after me in the first place?” Eva asked. “Kirk is still out there on his own, you know!”

Sorin was not sure what Eva had in mind, but he followed her regardless because he wanted to find out the answer to his father’s departure. Whatever Johan had to say to Rain, Sorin would have to wait.


To be continued…


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Aurora – Chapter 20 (Part 2)

[Various dates over the years across many places]


(The Impact of The Ruthless – Kirk’s account)


Quite honestly, I had never been the strongest growing up. I was tall, yes, but I lacked the strength that the Ameci military demanded. When I was younger, if you were of the age, then it was pretty much necessary to enlist if you wanted to support your family and yourself. Even to this day, there are those who enlist because they feel as if they are required to do so, but that is another topic for another time. As I was saying, I did not possess the strength needed to be a soldier in the Ameci military. I grew up the son of parents who were always too busy to do much at home, so I usually had to make my own meals and provide for myself. I do not hold any sort of grudge against my mother and father for not being there; after all, it was all they could do to make sure I grew up strong.

One day, however, all of that changed. I do not know the exact details, but my father was killed by a lowly man. He worked as a bus driver, so he came across many people, but for someone to kill him while he was just doing his job was unthinkable to me back then. Who would do such a thing? Sadly, I never got to find out who did kill him, but I still think about father to this day. The day my father died, my mother made sure to do what she could to provide even though she and I both knew the toll it would take on her, mentally and physically. It was sad to see her come home every night, which was when I made my decision. I had to bring peace of mind for my mother so that she would not need to overwork herself ever again.

That road would be a tough one to travel, as I found out from the Ameci general that there was no way I could enlist. It takes a special kind of person to join the military, and apparently I was not one of the lucky ones. Some got in through thanks to their strength, while others got in thanks to their brains. As for me, I had decent strength, but it was not good enough, nor were my smarts good enough to even be something like a spy. Dejected, I left the base and headed to the nearest bar I could find. Once there, a new opportunity opened up for me in the form of an older man with long hair sitting on the patio. He was in the middle of talking to another man when he noticed me. That was when I introduced myself to Alan Berry for the first time.

I did not know at the time what Alan had seen in me, but looking back I knew that it was because he saw that desire in my eyes. The desire for wanting to change the world for the better, which he himself proudly fought for. He told me all about his friends Lowell and Tre, who were also working towards the same goals he was, and said that I possessed plenty of potential. I asked him what it would do for me and Alan replied that he would see to it that he would help my mother and I personally. Alan was just a nice guy like that, as he was with the other members of the eventual Swords of Eight. And like a fool with nowhere else to go, I happily accepted Alan’s offer to join his crew.

Little did I know at the time, the man Alan had previously been speaking with would be the man who would go on to become the catalyst to all the pain me and my family would suffer for years to come. He had an ambitious mind at the time, but apparently all Alan needed to see was his reaction after I joined. Alan looked to the man and said simply that he would decline his offer. After that, he got up and walked away with a briefcase in his hand. Alan shook his head and remarked to me that I had the desire to bring good in the world while that man did not. I asked Alan who that man was and all he said was that he was a young businessman who came to offer Alan money. As I wondered why Alan declined the man’s offer, he said that it was not about money but community. That was why he did not take the offer from the man known as Harold Mars.

I learned a lot from Alan over those years, and eventually I was able to turn the opportunity he gave me into a chance to help others. Soon enough, I ran into the woman who I wound up marrying. April was everything to me, and I to her, as we ended up having our first child together. I knew in my heart that Rysol had the potential to grow up in a better world than the one I grew up in and for that I was happy. He was the happiest child as he was always curious and willing to learn what he could in order to grow. Rysol was a small river but I had a hope in my heart that he would go on to be even bigger than that. Six years later, Sorin would be born.

Of course, that was when I noticed it. That ever creeping evil that seemed to follow me around ever since April gave birth to Rysol. I thought little of it at the time, because I was able to fend off any assailants and was confident in my abilities as a sword fighter. My allies were always around to help as well when I needed them. I had thought it was because of what Walton Lokke did, but I was not able to directly implicate him. Not until later, anyway. I assumed that once the war was over, most of these attackers would run away with nowhere to go, but during one eventful day, I had to go with Alan to investigate an incident. If I had realized sooner, then I knew that I would have been able to save April and Rysol and none of this would have to happen.

But it was too late.

She was already dead and Rysol was nowhere to be found. The men who killed her tried to attack me, but I killed them before they could even scratch me. It was such a pain in my heart that I swore to that day I would never take the life of another ever again, because I knew full well the impact that it caused. As I went over to Sorin’s crib, I knew that it would not be safe for him to stay with me any longer. At least, not until he was old enough. Determined to find answers, I left Sorin to the care of my trusted friend, Raymohnd Smith. Everything changed that day, that much was certain.

I searched around the world for the next five years, making many friends and allies as the answers always seemed to evade me at each turn. Soon enough, I found the answer lying in wait for me back in Ameci. The man who Alan turned away was my lead thanks to someone willing to tell me what he knew about him. That is, after I made sure to subdue him first before he could try anything. I did not know at the time whether or not Harold played a part in Rysol’s abduction or April’s murder; after encountering him, however, I knew for a fact that he was the one who orchestrated everything.

My investigation led me to the great ship Ameci Wyse as I searched high and low for Harold Mars. The ship remained docked as I hurried down into the hull in hopes of finding him. The chances that Rysol would be with him were high enough to make me delve deeper into the ship, to which I ended up in the ship’s engine room. Harold was there, of course, though Rysol was not.

So you finally figured it out, haven’t you?” Harold asked.

I readied my sword. “You admit it, then,” I said. “Before I take you out, tell me why you did it. What could possibly drive you to kill a fellow Ameci like this? Why did you target my wife?

Harold hunched over the controls and began to laugh. “You really are so damn idiotic, aren’t you,” he replied. “The only thing I care about is making you suffer. Whether she died or you died, I would get my results all the same.

My hands gripped the handle of my blade tightly. “Results? What the hell could you possibly mean? And where is Rysol!?

Rysol? I haven’t the slightest idea what you’re talking about,” Harold said. His grin told me all I needed to know. “But what I do know is that I have a goal in mind for this world. A goal so grand that I cannot allow anyone to interfere with it, and that includes the likes of you and the other Swords.

You intend to kill me, then?” I asked.

You must be insane to think I would do such a thing to you,” Harold replied. “There’s no way I would kill you myself. Not in Ameci, anyway…

That was when I noticed that the ship had already begun moving. As the horn blared out, I was now stuck on the Wyse with my worst enemy. The ship had to have moved while Harold and I were talking, somehow. No way were we too far off from shore, however, and I could easily swim back. I just had to run first before Harold could do anything.

Your fate has been sealed, Mr. Wilk,” Harold said. “I know full well how good you are as a swordsman, and that is why I came prepared.

Bring on your worst, Harold,” I said. “I’ll take down anyone you send at me before you can even blink!

But that was not Harold’s intention. No, he thought different from me. The preparation he made was to kill me on the ship himself. Overseas, Harold could deal with me and be over with it. That was when I noticed the gun in his hand as he pointed it directly at me.

Life has given me many, many obstacles,” Harold said. “Obstacles in the form of people like you and Alan, as well as the others I’ve already dealt with. After I’m done with you, I’ll be that much closer to reaching my goal.

You’ve mentioned your goal already once before,” I said. “Would part of this twisted goal involve killing the other Swords as well?

Harold smirked. “I see no real reason to answer you,” he said. “I’m done talking with you, Mr. Wilk. Now die.

He was trained on me and the hallway behind me was narrow. My odds of leaving uninjured were low. I had to find a way out. Luckily, I knew what I had to do and lunged forward at Harold. Though it was reckless, Harold was caught off guard. There was my chance. I swung my sword down at his right arm as all he could do was try to move out of the way. With his back turned to me, I found my opening and plunged my sword deep into his back.

Son of a bitch… You son of a bitch… Kirk Wilk, you son of a bitch!” Harold screamed, which followed with some loud coughs.

I made a promise to my wife that I would never kill again,” I said, “But in this one instance, I know she would understand.

I had him pinned against the back wall now as my sword remained within him as he had nowhere to run. He had thought me trapped, but in all actuality, he was the one who was trapped.

At least, that was what I thought.

Idiot… You think a simple wound like this will deter me from achieving my goals?” Harold asked. “You’re just as much an idiot as the woman who dared to call me insane! I’ll kill you, Kirk Wilk! I’ll kill you right here and now and send you to your watery demise!

Harold proved to match his words and wriggled his way out. He used up all of the strength he had and elbowed me hard. As I was sent backwards, my sword went with me as Harold picked up his gun and ran away. I chased after him as I ran through the halls of the ship until I found him right up on the deck tending to his wound.

Some swordsman you are,” Harold said. “I won’t make the same mistake twice, you hear me?

I said nothing. He said nothing. The night had arrived as the two of us were face-to-face on the deck of the ship. Harold gave everything he got, but he was no match for my speed. With each slash and slice I made, Harold lost both his arms as well as his left leg. He then looked at me all scathed and bloody, still with the same confidence he had moments ago.

Don’t… Don’t think that you’ve won… Kirk Wilk…

With that, Harold fell over the ship’s guardrail. It must have been a long descent into the ocean, but there truly was no place for him to go now. After all, I severely wounded him. At least I knew that April could rest in peace, but Rysol remained my priority.




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


“Harold Mars… I knew I’ve heard of him before, but I never thought that he was that ghastly,” Henry said.

“If I’m being honest, that’s not even the worst thing he did,” Kirk replied. “A man like that has no heart in him whatsoever.”

Eva shook her head. “You saw him fall to his death,” she said. “Please don’t tell me that your memory is shaky now.”

“It isn’t, trust me,” Kirk said. “I’m not changing anything I’ve said, nor will I suggest that what happened isn’t true. No…  Harold had some help. Someone that was willing enough to help him in the event that something went wrong for him, which was the case then.”

“And I guess you’re going to suggest that Lokke helped Harold in his time of need?” Eva asked.

“It wasn’t Walton Lokke,” Kirk said. “No, the answer isn’t as simple as that. Besides, he’s dead now.”

“Now I remember where I’ve heard that last name before,” Henry said. “It’s been a bit since leaving the Ameci military, but there is an up-and-coming soldier by the name of Korbin Mars. I can’t help but think that this is more than a mere coincidence, but what do the two of you think?”

“Yes, I knew you would ask about him eventually,” Kirk replied. “In fact, he has just as much a place in Harold’s plan as any of the other people involved. He’s reckless and has trouble holding his own in a fight according to my son, but that doesn’t mean Korbin isn’t dangerous.”

“So he’s related, then?” Henry asked.

“It was only recently I found out, but yes, Harold and Korbin are father and son,” Kirk said. “He’s the most useful person to Harold right now.”

“This is still confusing,” Henry said. “I think would’ve heard about this when I met Korbin, but maybe I’m forgetting something here.”

“It’ll do us no good to talk,” Kirk said. “We need action right now and that begins with tracking Harold down.”

“Even so, we don’t know where Harold is,” Eva replied. “Let’s not rush into a mindless chase until we meet with the others.”

“You have a point, I suppose,” Kirk said. “Very well, we should head out to the kingdom now, then we’ll be able to take on Harold.”

Henry was fortunate to have friends like Kirk and Eva. Though the trip to Glora ended on bad terms, Henry remained optimistic. He had to be for Tori and the kids. Fortunately, he was sure that it would be safer to be in Thekohn. Henry took one last look at the city, the beautiful city that it was, and closed his eyes as he breathed in and exhaled. Now he was ready.


To be continued…


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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…


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Aurora – Chapter 17 (Part 1)

[21st of December, 2740 AD; Sparrow Hotel – Indoor Lounge, Glora, Ahnlikohn]


Sorin and Eva met with the others in the lounge as they tried to make sense of what had been said over the radio speakers. The Queen of Ahnlikohn named Sorin as Chancellor Harring’s assassin. How she came to her conclusion Sorin did not know, but he knew he was not responsible. He was sure Eva knew as well as Gavin and the rest of the group but even with Rain and Ayanna on his side, Sorin still had to anticipate the pressure that would soon begin to rise. Yet even with his friends, there were two that were not in the lounge: Johan and Jelka. Sorin knew that there was no way Johan would risk showing himself around Glora, but now he felt like he needed Johan’s help more than ever.

“So does anyone have any ideas?” Law asked. “It’s been kind of quiet ever since we gathered here.”

No one responded. Sorin could not blame anyone for not having the words to say. With the attacks instigated by Korbin and the Blood Ravens, little could be said about him. They all knew who he was. They knew who Isaac was, as he was the one who likely helped set up the attack. Yet even with that known, Queen Amelia did not address the Ameci or the Blood Ravens in her statement.

“How could she not tell?” Luna asked. “Her people were the ones who got hurt… Why does she not realize who was responsible?”

“If I knew why, then I would tell you,” Rain said. “I’m so deeply sorry, Luna. I didn’t expect Foundation to respond so soon. No one did.”

“You shouldn’t have to apologize, Your Majesty,” Kirk said. “You did a fine job out there today and an even better one in trying to bring everyone together to the summit.”

“I just don’t know if we’ll be able to continue,” Rain replied. “When we were all gathered together in the conference room, the only thing I could think about was all of you and your safety.”

Eva sat down next to Kirk. “Yet all the same we were concerned for you,” she said. “Isaac Kunigunde… He’d let the world burn down if it meant he’d get a little more in his pockets—no, especially because of that.”

“I know he’s on everyone’s minds right now, but what about you?” Gale asked to Sorin. “It’ll be hard to go around now that the Ahnle Royal Family thinks you killed the chancellor… I’m not sure what we’ll be able to do now.”

“You can clear his name,” Mina said to Rain. “You can, can’t you? I’m sure that Amelia will listen to you!”

“I will talk to her in the morning,” Rain said. “Actually, there is much I wish to speak about with her, so hopefully it will prove to be a good meeting.”

“Let’s hope so,” Luna said. “There’s been a lot of talk back in Helm about Queen Amelia ever since the crown prince’s crime came to light, that some people are beginning to voice their distrust with her and the Ahnlikohnian government. I just hope you’ll do well, Rain.”

“Well, I’m sure she’ll have to issue some statements soon,” Gavin said. “She would be foolish to ignore the fact that the shooting was caused by Ameci’s own military.”

“You think so, bro?” Law asked. “It wasn’t that long ago they had a similar attack in this city, so I’m not holding my breath that Queen Amelia will hold those birds responsible.”

“If she doesn’t, then I will,” Gavin replied. “I’ll make sure to hold Korbin Mars responsible, preferably with a bullet.”

“He’s troublesome, sure, but we can’t lose our cool yet,” Kirk said. “It’d only end up playing into Isaac’s hands if we react without reason.”

“What’s your big idea, then?” Gavin asked.

Kirk looked to Sorin. “As long as the queen sees you as Chancellor Harring’s killer, it would be unwise to stay in this country any longer,” he said. “There’s no telling what would happen if we were to go charging after Isaac and Foundation right away.”

Sorin could tell his father was truly worried about him. He knew that there was no way he could stay in Glora for the time being. The tension would have to subside soon, Sorin hoped as he held Gale’s hand. With Rain meeting the Queen of Ahnlikohn tomorrow, there was hope that wrongs would be righted. At least, Sorin would no longer be suspected of Harring’s assassination. Until then, though, Sorin and Gale knew that they had to leave as soon as they possibly could.

“And we’ve got old man Dezine to worry about,” Law said. “Ayanna, my love, have you heard anything from him?”

“He’s been silent, at least with General Reiss and I,” Ayanna replied. “But what I do know for certain is that he’s dangerous. Anyone who works with Isaac and Foundation we cannot take casually.”

“It wouldn’t surprise me if he had a hand in orchestrating Alan’s murder,” Eva said. “The bastard probably waited as long as he could until Isaac Kunigunde walked up to him with promises of wealth and power and offered him his help. All of it just to fulfill their own selfish needs.”

“I’ve got no idea his goal, but I will have to be on the lookout regardless,” Ayanna said. “The general’s not much a fan of him either, so I will have to see what he thinks about this.”

Law leaned back in his seat. “The more the merrier, right?”

“That would be the idea,” Ayanna replied.

“Guess we’ll have to see for ourselves,” Pekka said. “I’d worry more about a man whose power can so easily be bought over the buyer himself, at least in the short term.”

“You needn’t worry,” Ayanna said, “Even with his power, there are limits to what Dezine can do so long as we’re all operating in Iiayikohn.”

“If that’s what you say,” Pekka replied.

Mina turned to Sorin. “So I guess you’ll have to leave soon,” she said. “Oh, I know! Why not head to the kingdom?”

Sorin considered the idea. He could head with Gale to the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn and stay there until Rain was able to speak with Queen Amelia and get her to rescind the charges. Until that happened, though, Sorin decided that he would consult with Gale about the idea.

“I think that’s our best option right now,” Gale said. “Besides, we can try to figure out what we can do once Rain takes care of your problem.”

“Yeah, that would be good,” Sorin said. “I guess we’ll have to get moving right away, then.”

“You can stay at the castle,” Rain told him. “I’ll call Storm and tell her that you two are coming.”

“Thank you,” Gale said. “Just keep Sorin and I updated on what happens, okay?”

Sorin nodded and got up with Gale. They said goodbye to the rest of the group and headed to their room. Time was moving fast and Sorin had to stay ahead if he and his friends wanted to challenge Foundation head on. Still, he had to wonder about Johan and Jelka and if they had already left the country. There was only one way for him to find out. As soon as Sorin got to the hotel room with Gale, he hurried over to the phone and made a call for the abandoned industrial complex just outside the city. It was a long shot, but he had to try. Five rings later, the phone picked up.

“Hello?” Johan asked.

“Johan, it’s me,” Sorin said. “Do you have a moment before you leave? It’s really important.”




[21st of December, 2740 AD; Sparkling Gold Eagle Hotel – Outside Lobby, Glora, Ahnlikohn]


Crowds surrounded the sides of the hotel entrance as Fercewend entered the hotel with a group of soldiers behind him. Ahnlikohnian guards held off the citizens as they expressed their displeasure towards the Ameci military and the Blood Ravens’ actions by the park earlier. Fercewend held his tongue as an old man rushed up and confronted him. The man’s cries about how his daughter was killed in the attack made Fercewend feel guilt, but he had a meeting to attend and could not be held up any further.

“I’m sorry, sir, but I must take my leave,” Fercewend said. “However, your loss is one I wouldn’t wish on anyone, not even my enemies.”

“Like you give a shit!”

The man attempted to grab ahold of Fercewend’s coat but was stopped by Bradley who punched the man in the face. With the towering Bradley looking down at him, the man rubbed his face and tried to stand up.

“Do not bother General Fercewend,” Bradley said. “I won’t say it again, so you better get the hell out of here before I change my mind.”

“If this is how Ameci treats its host, then all hope is lost,” the old man said. “Each and every one of you Ameci is full of shit!”

He stood up and ran away. Fercewend sighed as he greeted Bradley, who wore a cast on his left arm. A lot had happened in Glora today but Fercewend had many more meetings to attend before the trip was over.

“I’m sorry you had to deal with such an insufferable man, sir,” Bradley said. “It must’ve been a taxing day for you.”

“Please don’t worry about me,” Fercewend said. “As for you, should I take that cast as a sign that you encountered the enemy?”

“They’re a small group, but nonetheless they are deadly,” Bradley replied. “If it weren’t for my quick thinking, I would still be lying on the ground floor of the Glora Grand Hall with a broken neck.”

Fercewend shook his head. “Never would I expect that an Ameci would be the leader of a terrorist organization,” he said, “Yet here we are dealing with this Moonlit Silence. I am hoping that this is but the worst we have to deal with but I would advise you to keep your head up, commander.”

“That I will do,” Bradley said. “Luckily I escaped with a sprain; the doctor said it would take a few days of rest before it fully heals.”

“Then I would say to take all the rest you need,” Fercewend said. “Come now, let’s walk.”

They proceeded to walk down the hall together. Fercewend thought about Henry along the way, wondering if he would be able to talk to him again before he left. He did not see Henry at all during the day and wondered if he was doing alright since the last time they were together. Perhaps he would pay Henry a visit to see if he was doing well, Fercewend thought. Finally, after some walking, he made it with Bradley to the pair of closed doors.

“Is there anything you need of me, general?” Bradley asked. “I actually need to meet with someone.”

“If that’s the case, then I shall see you later,” Fercewend said. “Depending on this meeting, I may need to call on you once more.”

Bradley nodded. “Understood.”

He rushed off as Fercewend exhaled. There was little doubt in his mind that due to this incident, his stay would most likely extend. He had hoped to head back with his daughter soon, but Fercewend had considered the possibility that his work was not yet done. His family was important, after all, and he valued Ari’s safety above all else.

“Perhaps I should see how she is doing,” he said. “She should still be up in the room…”

The door before Fercewend opened, however, as Isaac revealed himself. A large smile formed on Isaac’s face as Fercewend greeted him and followed him into the small meeting room. Casper waited inside as the three men met together to discuss the incident near the park. Fercewend took a seat at the end of the table while Isaac sat next to Casper, handing the acting president a large stack of papers. As he leafed through the sheets, Casper adjusted his glasses and began to read aloud.

“As I’m sure you’re aware, general, we have much to talk about regarding today,” Casper said. “Namely, the ones behind the attack.”

“The Moonlit Silence,” Fercewend said. “How is it that I was unable to do anything about this? If I had known sooner Johan Kuu’s intentions, I would have put a stop to this before he even had a chance to start.”

“Don’t blame yourself too much,” Casper replied. “He was always a traitor from the start. It must’ve had to do with the loss of his father, if I were to hazard a guess.”

Isaac rolled his eyes. “It is not because of the loss of his father Voitto that triggered Johan Kuu to defect,” he said. “Some men are just merely predisposed to serve only for themselves because that’s the only thing they truly care about in this world.”

“Yes, which is why Mr. Kuu wishes to throw the whole world into disarray,” Casper said. “He’s even convinced former members of the True Thekohnians and the Neu Thekohnian Order to join his cause, as well as some other Ameci who feel sympathy for his so-called cause.”

“So you would say that with the chancellor’s assassination, Sorin Wilk is also part of this organization?” Fercewend asked.

He had met with Kirk’s son only once, but remembered him well. To think that someone like him would turn against his own land was unfathomable, yet it all made sense after reading the initial reports. Fercewend had to wonder what Kirk thought about all of this, yet even then, he was but a mere acquaintance to the legendary man himself.

“It really doesn’t surprise me in the slightest,” Isaac said. “I have heard from others that he is good friends with Mr. Kuu and that the two had always kept in touch. The fact that he is the son of a former member of the notorious Swords of Eight only serves to the notion that these men are predisposed to terrorism.”

“Yes, they must be dealt with,” Casper said. “We must be swift as possible when dealing with them, for if they are allowed to operate, they will dismantle everything that we Ameci have worked hard to preserve with the Thekohnian Region.”

“I never remembered the Swords of Eight being against us,” Fercewend said. “I have known them to be some of the most honorable people I have ever met in my life. Henry Randolph can also attest to that.”

“The Swords of Eight only served for their own ends,” Isaac replied. “It is not like you to doubt Ameci, Rohan, so I would suggest that you rethink your priorities and your allegiances.”

“Anyway, we also have reason to believe that the newly coronated Queen of Thekohn is in cahoots with the Moonlit Silence,” Casper said. “I’ve received many reports that have kept track of who she has traveled with and where their origins lie. General, I think you may be surprised at who is on this list.”

He handed the paper to Isaac, who then handed it over to Fercewend. One look at the list made Fercewend’s eyes light up with displeasure. Numerous men and women he had interacted with, but none of them were more surprising to see on the list than Gale. She had grown up in Fercewend’s household when she was younger due to the fact that her father was always busy, yet she was allegedly associated with a dangerous organization.

“This… This has to be a joke, right, Isaac?” Fercewend asked. “You do not intend on pulling my leg just for a cheap laugh, do you now?”

Isaac clasped his hands together and leaned forward. “If I were joking, would I have invited you here? Would I, owner and CEO of Kunigunde Industries, lead his own flesh and blood to believe a family member was part of a terrorist organization all for the sake of a laugh? Remember that I do not take these sorts of things lightly, which is why this hurts for me as much as I’m sure it hurts for you, Rohan.”

“I see… I suppose that the truth hurts even more when it comes to family,” Fercewend said. “I am sorry.”

“Yes, well, we are hoping to find answers to this as well,” Isaac said. “We’ve never dealt with a threat quite like this and I am hoping that you won’t burden yourself with fond memories, because I won’t.”

“I hope that it doesn’t come down to the worst,” Fercewend said. “Anyway, if this list is true, what should we do about the queen?”

“Let us see how she operates during this time,” Casper said. “There may be a possibility that she knows nothing about this group and that she is merely but a pawn for Mr. Kuu. Ironic, really.”

“There’s no need to be hasty,” Isaac added. “Anyway, let us discuss what we will do going forward. Is that okay with you, Rohan?”

“I have no problem with that,” Fercewend replied. “Shall we begin?”


To be continued…


Previous| Next Part

Aurora – Chapter 14 (Part 2)

[20th of December, 2740 AD; Sparrow Hotel – Indoor Lounge, Glora, Ahnlikohn]


Henry leaned back in his seat as he wondered what to do next. He waited for Tori to return from the local shop as she went with the boys to pick up some snacks. But Henry was not hungry in the slightest. After what took place earlier, Henry found it difficult to stomach the course of actions that took place during his meeting with Rohan about the comments that were made the night before. It was something he had to do, which was why Henry brought Tori and the kids along to meet Fercewend. However, the general was busy meeting with Isaac, so Henry had to deal with both of them at the same time.

“That man continues to harbor hatred towards me,” Henry said. “And to say that in front of Tori and the boys… Does Isaac Kunigunde have no decency left in him?”

One statement was all that was needed for Henry to have caution against Isaac. The words that he had said to Henry left him chilled and worried not only for himself, but for his family as well. It was the type of fear that Henry had felt many times during his days as a soldier, but instead of coming from enemy forces, it was straight from a fellow compatriot of Ameci.




“At the end of the day, decisions are to be made by the president and the general,” Isaac said. “Consider yourself lucky that you get to enjoy your little free time like this, because I’m certain that it will be the last.”

“You… What is it with you and Henry?” Tori asked. “All he did was ask Rohan a single question, and you step in to shoot it down with such contempt.”

“I don’t recall anyone asking you to speak, woman,” Isaac said. “Anyway, I’m sure that you know now that you’re walking on a thin rope. It was only a few months ago that the charges of treason against you were lifted, yet all the same they can come back should any new ‘evidence’ pops up.”

“But Rohan has already said that the claims were unfounded,” Henry replied. “As far as the law is concerned, I am innocent.”

Isaac raised a finger. “Do you forget, Henry Randolph? It was our general here who decided that,” he said. “Now he is a man of high stature, but if push comes to shove… well, I’m sure your tiny brain is able to figure it out. Rohan! What are you standing there for?”

“Of course,” Fercewend said.

“Hold on a second,” Henry said. “You know damn well what happened last night, and what’s happening now, Rohan. Say something!”

“Henry, you should know that above all else, we must work together to preserve order,” Fercewend said. “We must continue to have order, otherwise, we will end up falling into disarray.”

“Come on,” Tori said. “It’s not about ‘order,’ Rohan. It’s about doing what’s right.”

“Listen here,” Isaac said to Henry and Tori. He walked up to the family as his eyebrows furrowed. “If I had it my way, I’d waste no time filling out the papers for your execution, Henry Randolph.”

He turned away from them and went back to Fercewend.

“Have a nice day,” Isaac said. “Shall we, Rohan?”




Henry slammed his fist down on the table. He hated to admit it, but he was scared. Fear that everything could all come crashing down on him again. There was no doubt in Henry’s mind now: Isaac Kunigunde was a much more menacing adversary than anyone he had ever faced during the War of the Lands.

“Whatever sort of grudge he has towards me, I’ll just have to face it head on,” Henry said. “It doesn’t matter who he is; Isaac Kunigunde is still just another man and I can deal with him.”

“Are you alright?” Kirk asked.

Henry looked up from the table and found that Kirk and Eva by his table. The two were by themselves as Henry got up and greeted them. He did not expect to meet them at the hotel, of all places, though it was a pleasant surprise.

Kirk took the seat across from Henry. “I guess you had quite a morning at the Glora Grand Hall.”

“It’s not like there was any kind of scuffle or anything,” Henry replied. “But it does make the rest of this trip a little problematic for the family and I…”

“Then you just slammed the table for nothing?” Eva asked, taking a seat next to Kirk.

“I didn’t think anyone saw,” Henry said.

“Don’t worry,” Kirk said, “I’m not too fond of the guy, either. I’ve never been that fond of him, in fact.”

“You shouldn’t be surprised,” Eva said to Henry. “That man’s whole career is built on looking down on others and screwing over the unfortunate.”

Henry looked up at the ceiling. “I’m not, if I have to be honest with you,” he replied, “But I’m not worried about myself this time.”

“You’re worried about them,” Eva said.

“I can’t even begin to think what I’d do if anything were to happen to Tori or the boys,” Henry said. “That’s why I’m so tense right now.”

Eva sighed as she tilted her head down. “It’s a pain you shouldn’t have to experience,” she replied. “Pain that you don’t deserve at all.”

“Right now, I guess there’s little I can do,” Henry said, “But that encounter only furthers my resolve. There’s nothing that he can do that will stop that.”

“Good for you, Henry,” Kirk said. “Well, I guess it would be fair to tell you what we know about Isaac, since it may prove relevant for you.”

Henry raised an eyebrow. “What do you know?”

“I never told you about it back at the kingdom, but the leader of the Neu Thekohnian Order wasn’t Isla,” Eva said. “Well, she was, technically, but there was another who was pulling the strings from afar.”

After a lengthy explanation about all that had happened within Thedam Castle, which Henry listened to with high intent, many things were beginning to make sense for him. Still, he had many questions as well, which only served to confuse him as he was not sure that Kirk or Eva would be able to answer any of the questions that he had. What was obvious was that Isaac Kunigunde crossed a line. It was a line that if someone like Henry had crossed, there would be no time wasted in processing his arrest.

“To think that he would be this duplicitous… I knew that there was more beneath his facade, but to think he’s playing the Ameci government while he’s rubbing their shoulders at the same time?” Henry asked. He clenched his fist as it began to shake. “He’s secretly influenced that dangerous group for his own gain… All of this tragedy and bloodshed just because he’s not satisfied with how much money he already has?”

“I was worried about whether or not to tell you back then,” Eva said. “But I should know that you’ve been a good ally to Kirk and I…”

“It’s okay,” Henry said. “Now that I know exactly what that man’s capable of, I will do my best to keep on moving forward and fight.”

“What will you do now?” Kirk asked.

“Well, we were going to enjoy our vacation a little more,” Henry replied, “But since it seems like there’s plenty to deal with, I’m not sure what Tori and I can do to help.”

“You should stay with them for the time being,” Kirk said. “Your family is important, after all.”

“There’s not much we can do right now, anyway,” Eva said.

“It sure seems like that’s the case,” Henry said. “Say, where’s Sorin, if you don’t mind me asking?”

Kirk shrugged. “I don’t really know myself,” he replied. “Of course, I’m sure he’s doing something out there.”




[20th of December, 2740 AD; The Robin’s Nest, Glora, Ahnlikohn – Erithacus District]


Sorin looked at the clock on the wall. It was now an hour from noon and the summit had already begun, according the what Rain had told him. Due to the high amount of traffic surrounding the Glora Grand Hall, Sorin and the others were not able to attend up close. Instead, he and Gale decided to meet them at the closest lounge they could find. There, they went with Gavin and Law as well as Luna and Pekka. Much to their surprise, or rather their lack thereof, the group found Kiku and her guards there, as well as Noa.

“Wow, Wilkie, it’s really nice to see you!” Kiku exclaimed.

She embraced Sorin as he could only muster a small laugh, but he was glad to see her regardless. Kiku then backed off and shook hands with everyone. Sorin sat down as the radio on the speaker continued to play out the speeches at the summit, with a quiet speech from Elemci’s president first.

“You’re not over there?” Gale asked. “I thought you’d be over there talking with everybody.”

“Oh no, not me,” Kiku replied. “I know Ray and Minnie are there, but I can’t stand the tension! Not while I’m still so full of energy and excitement!”

“Besides, I’m not sure where I would fit in,” Noa said. “I’m not really an official or a part of the military… and I know Kiku doesn’t really want me to go wandering around by myself too much.”

“Please, Nona, when have I ever said that?” Kiku asked. “I was just worried about you getting lonely because you won’t have me to talk to, silly.”

“Really?” Law asked. “Because I’d like to think he’d be going around the town, searching for some fine ladies to talk to…”

“Calm down, Lawrence,” Gavin said.

“How… How dare you say that!” Noa said to Law.

Kiku giggled as she held Noa’s hand. “Though Nona isn’t really the type of guy who can just strike up conversations with women, I still love him,” she said. “Besides, if I wanted to, I’d be happy to talk to any woman for him!”

“Isn’t that a little too much?” Luna asked.

“I’d never play with his heart like that, Gab,” Kiku replied. “Nona and I are inseparable! I’d give my heart to him and I know he’d do the same.”

“It’s… true,” Noa said.

“So is that that ‘death to us part’ thing I’ve heard about?” Igor asked. “Or is that something else I mixed up?”

“I guess it could be like that,” Kiku said.

“Well, I’m not looking to die any time soon,” Noa said. “Not now, not later, not ever, hopefully!”

“That’d be pretty impossible,” Law said. “We all have to go eventually. All that really matters is what you do before then. I plan on gracing this world with my presence, which is why I’m working as an actor!”

“How is that going along?” Luna asked. “I ask because I’ve heard so much about acting and singing and I think it was Kiku there who told me I had a good singing voice. I was nervous about it, but the other day, I sang in front of Pekka and he said it was really good, though I feel like I could have done a lot better all things considered. I mean… How do you like being an actor?”

Law clasped his hands together and grinned. “I’m the star of the show,” he replied. “They love me on the stage and I even have the attention of a beautiful young stagehand named Em.”

“He has a supporting role,” Gavin said.

“Oh, that must be quite nice,” Kiku said. “Those bright lights must put a lot of pressure on you, Lala, but I’m not surprised that you have a natural talent for the stage.”

“Thank you,” Law replied. “You know, there is one scene in this play that I do need a bit of practice on… Maybe you could help me out, Luna.”

Luna’s eyes lit up. “Who? Me?”

“Well, who else could I be talking to?” Law asked. “There’s only one person here that I can think of that would be perfect for practicing with.”

“You better tell us where this is going,” Gavin said.

“In time, bro,” Law said. “Tell me, Luna: have you ever kissed anyone before?”

Luna turned her head aside and covered her mouth. “What… What kind of question is that!?”

“Well, if we’re going to practice this scene, I need to know how experienced my co-star is,” Law answered.

“I guess it was time,” Gale said.

Gavin placed his hand on his forehead and over his sunglasses. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Aren’t you already with that lieutenant general lady?” Noa asked. “Won’t she be upset?”

“He’s not going to do anything stupid like that,” Gale said. “All he cares about is getting a reaction out of Luna over there.”

“Hehe, it’s the perfect reaction for her, though,” Kiku said. “I’ve never seen quite a shade of red like that, so that’s a plus for you, Gab!”

“I think it’d be best you two leave the poor girl alone,” Ayame said. “Clearly, she is nervous being asked about such personal matters.”

“Oh, okay,” Kiku replied.

“I suppose that’s a no, then,” Law said. “Well, if that’s the word, then I’m not going to pursue it any further.”

Law stood up and started to head for the front of the room. Sorin, though, continued to keep an eye out for anything suspicious. There was no chance he was going to overlook Korbin and his Blood Ravens, nor was he going to sit back if they acted first. Still, when he glanced out to the street, Sorin could not find any of the Ameci soldiers strolling about.

“Not a trace, it seems,” Sorin said.

“What are you talking about, Wilkie?” Kiku asked.

Sorin shook his head. “I… I thought it was going to snow today,” he said. “Guess I was wrong.”

“We don’t get that much snow back home,” Kiku replied. “That said, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with winter. I like being able to cuddle when it gets too cold, but I don’t like having to wear such a thick coat! I wish it was warmer, you know?”

“Truly, it would be nicer if it were warmer,” Law said. “There’s something spectacular about the summer, if you catch my drift.”

“Oh, and what would that be?” Pekka asked.

At that moment, before Law could answer, there was a break in the radio broadcast. The static caused everyone to take notice, which was then followed by some piercing feedback that made everyone cover their ears. The noise quieted down, however, as the silence soon followed. Sorin knew now that it was time for the next phase.

“Sorry about that little noise,” the muffled voice said. “This kind of thing isn’t exactly my forte…”

Sorin was sure that the other patrons at the lounge, as well as some of his friends, were confused at what they were hearing. However, Sorin was happy to hear that Johan had finally established a signal for everyone in Glora to hear. He had to wonder how Johan pulled it off, but that would have to be a question for much later. Now it was time for Johan to reveal the truth.

“You may be asking yourself: who is this and why are they interrupting the summit? Well, that is simple,” Johan said, “I am the leader of the Moonlit Silence, the group that reaches into the depths of the dark and brings to light the truths that Foundation does not want you to see!”

“So this is his plan,” Pekka said.

“Huh? What plan?” Kiku asked. “That voice sounds familiar… Could it be who I think it is, Aya?”

“Let’s listen to what he has to say first,” Ayame replied.

“Before I reveal anything, I must tell you in advance that I have operated within the Neu Thekohnian Order for the purpose of obtaining these hidden documents,” Johan said. “The letters I am about to read to you detail important conversations between the leader of the Neu Thekohnian Order and their benefactor, Isaac Kunigunde.”

There was some chatter amongst the other patrons as Sorin continued to listen with intent. Naming Isaac made Johan a target, for sure, but Sorin knew he did not care about that.

“What I’m going to read to you today will not only unveil the crimes of Isaac Kunigunde, but those of Casper Bradley and Wilson Dezine as well,” Johan said. “Let this be known, Isaac: the moment I am done speaking, you will not be able to escape from your fate.”


To be continued…


Previous| Next Chapter

Aurora – Chapter 13 (Part 1)

[19th of December, 2740 AD; Waking Eagle Theater, Glora, Ahnlikohn]


Right outside the local theater, Sorin waited with the others for Ayanna and Law to arrive. By now, Kirk and Eva joined the group on their trip to the city as the seven of them continued to wait. The cold air did little to make the time go by faster as Sorin began to wonder what took Ayanna and Law to get to the theater. He wanted to see them as soon as possible so that he could meet with Jelka later. With the news of a potential delay, however, Sorin wondered if he would be able to meet with Jelka on time.

“Do you believe it’s necessary to meet with everyone?” Eva asked.

“I intend to wait for the others,” Rain said. “There’s much I’d like to discuss with Ayanna and I don’t want to wait until tomorrow to talk with her.”

Gavin leaned himself against the streetlight. “I think Eva’s wondering if there’s anything that the rest of us can do until then,” he said. “We’ve got some time before the summit officially begins, so it only makes sense to wonder what will happen next. Hey Sorin, you have something important that you need to attend to, don’t you?”

“I wasn’t going to bring it up,” Sorin said. “Nor did I expect anyone to ask, but I do have something important.”

“You were going to sneak off from us somehow?” Gavin asked. “Give me a break. I know you well enough that you lack any sort of subtlety about what your intentions are.”

“If you were going to go see him, you could have just told us,” Mina said.

“It doesn’t do a lot of good to keep people you trust in the dark, Sorin,” Kirk said. “But I can understand why you’d be hesitant.”

“It’s not that I don’t trust any of you,” Sorin said. “I promised him that I would do my best to keep things under wraps until the time was right.”

“Wouldn’t right now be the best time?” Gale asked. “With Isaac here, it would make sense to show whatever you and Johan have and make it known to the public.”

“That’s for him to decide,” Sorin replied. “I don’t even know what he has, but I know for a fact that he has something groundbreaking.”

“Suppose that that’s all we can hope for,” Eva said as she walked up to the edge of the sidewalk. “It’s so damn cold already…”

As Eva gazed over at the other side of the street, she noticed a recognizable pair standing by an empty building. Sorin noticed, too, as he saw both Ayanna and Law dressed up in their coats. He was about to wave over to them and greet them, but Eva proved to be faster.

“It’s about time you showed up,” Eva said. “Come here already!”

“Oh, is that you, Eva?” Law asked. “Well, can’t keep you guys waiting for too long, can we?”

“Please, I’m sure that they don’t mind,” Ayanna said.

They walked across the street and reunited with the group. Now it seemed that almost everyone was here, save for a couple of other people that had yet to arrive. Sorin felt ready to move, but was stopped once Law wrapped his arm around his shoulder.

“Hey! Don’t even think that I forgot, man,” Law said, “We’ve got that unfinished business that we need to take care of, after all.”

“I was just about to bring it up,” Sorin replied.

“So you were,” Law said. “Well, what are we waiting for? We can’t get moving until we actually move, you know.”

“You’re going now?” Mina asked.

“That’s what it looks like, Mina,” Gavin said. “Just as well… I was starting to get a little bored myself. Where are we headed, anyway?”

Sorin adjusted his shirt. “I’ll tell you guys along the way.”

“Promise me that you’ll stay safe,” Gale said.

“Of course I will,” Sorin replied. “If anything happens, I’ll let you know as soon as possible.”

“You want to get it over with already?” Gavin asked. “Just do what you’re going to do so we can get going.”

Without a second thought, Sorin and Gale shared a brief moment before he took his leave with Gavin and Law. He did not know how long it would take to meet with Johan, but Sorin knew that he wanted to find out everything possible before the next phase of the plan happened. It was important to learn, which was why it was important for Sorin to get a clear answer out of his friend before the day ended.




[19th of December, 2740 AD; Abandoned Manufacturing Complex, Glora, Ahnlikohn – Inner Boundary]


There was no doubt in Sorin’s mind: this had to be the place. It brought back several memories as he strolled inside the premises as Gavin and Law followed him. The first encounter he and Johan had with Jelka took place inside these walls, fighting against each other. Now they were all on the same side, Sorin thought as he approached the main building. Two members of Johan’s Moonlit Silence greeted him, but stopped Gavin and Law at the door.

“You can trust them,” Sorin said to the guards.

The two guards looked at each other and nodded and decided to let Gavin and Law go through. Once inside, the room was empty, save for a few counters, chairs, and laid out paperwork.

“So this is their base of operations,” Law said. “I guess when you’re moving under the cover of darkness, this is what you’ll settle for. Right, bro?”

Gavin kept his hand trained on his pistol. “Keep your guard up,” he said. “There may have been a chance that we’ve been followed.”

“As wary as ever, aren’t you?” Law asked.

“Considering what we’ve been through already, it’s not impossible,” Gavin replied. “Remember, Johan’s the one with the cards in his hand. We’re waiting for him to play them.”

“Well, that’s not the only way to play, you know,” Johan said.

Sorin looked up at saw Johan walking out of the room by the right. Jelka followed by his side as both of them approached Sorin, Gavin, and Law. There was nobody else inside the building except for Johan and Jelka, though Johan, for some reason, was not wearing a shirt. At first, it threw Sorin off, but he managed to ignore it and focus on the conversation at hand.

“So, we’re all here,” Sorin said. “You’ve got your secret weapon, don’t you?”

“I do,” Johan replied.

“Does it involve running out there with your bare chest on display?” Law asked. “It’s cold enough to see my breath right now; how the hell are you so comfortable?”

Johan laughed. “If only I could, Law,” he said. “I’m drying out my shirt… As it turns out, moving all across the region makes for some strenuous activity.”

“I’m sure with her, there must be some ‘strenuous activity’ involved,” Law said. “Maybe I should ask Jelka myself…”

“Maybe you should stay on subject,” Gavin said as he slapped Law on the back of his head. “Good fucking grief, at least pretend to care about what’s being talked about, Lawrence!”

“It would do you some good, Mr. Power,” Jelka said. “Besides, it’s already crazy enough as it is to bring Sorin here. Had I known that you would bring the two brothers along, it would be a much different story.”

“We’re here now, aren’t we?” Gavin asked. “Better we hear it straight from the man himself.”

“I’m surprised you hold no ill will towards her, Gavin,” Sorin said.

“To say I don’t would be a lie,” Gavin replied, “But we’ve got bigger fish to deal with right now. Any problems I have with her is not something that I care much about.”

“So you say,” Jelka said. “I don’t blame you if you do not wish to forgive me for my actions. In fact, once this is over, I am more than willing to make it even if you so choose.”

“I’m not interested,” Gavin said.

“Guess that settles it,” Johan said. “Anyway, I assume you took the long path to get here, right?”

“We went exactly as I told him,” Sorin said while looking at Gavin. “I don’t think I saw anybody following us, but I can’t be too sure about that.”

“If anybody else was spotted, I would have known,” Jelka said. “I’m very familiar with this place, in case you’ve forgotten.”

“That she is,” Johan said.

“If anyone that I did not trust were to cross, I would have had a group surrounding the occupied area in an instant,” she continued. “That includes the Ameci military.”

“And I guess that you would have done the dirty work, too,” Law said. “You know, all that stuff your guy over there refuses to do himself.”

“Please, Law, I’m only one man,” Johan replied. “There’s only so much that I can really do during this time.”

“Yes, I’m very aware of that,” Gavin said. “You were the one who took down the president of Maeitakohn in less than a day, so I guess you really are just one man if that’s what you want us to believe.”

“As it stands, he resigned,” Johan said. “He confessed everything he knew and now he sits in a jail cell awaiting his fate. Isaac has already taken notice of what happened, which is why he wants to drive attention away from himself and Foundation during the summit.”

“And that’s why there are so many Ameci soldiers in Glora,” Law said. “It’s hard to ignore them when I can practically see them line every corner in the city. I don’t even know how you do it.”

“I haven’t stepped foot once into the city proper,” Johan answered. “If I did, they’d be sure to spot me the instant I set foot in the city limits. Jelka, on the other hand, isn’t as big a priority to them as you may think.”

“Why’s that?” Gavin asked.

Johan placed his hand on the counter. “Treason,” he said. “It’s one of the few crimes punishable by execution in Ameci. It’s a capital offense that’s been in place for over a hundred years, and they aren’t looking to change that any time soon. To Ameci, it’s serious business.”

“And you can’t go back,” Sorin said. “Not now, anyway, since they found out you were still alive.”

“It’s easy to imagine how one such as Isaac Kunigunde could use that law against someone he didn’t like,” Johan said. “He’s been climbing up the ranks of Ameci government slowly but surely, all so he could use that power to silence those who may oppose him.”

“But you’re not going to let that happen,” Gavin said. “The secret weapon Sorin mentioned is the trick up your sleeve; it’s the irrefutable proof that will bring down Isaac Kunigunde once and for all.”

Johan lifted his hand up from the counter. “I’m going to come forth with it during the summit tomorrow,” he said. “Each and every letter between him and the Neu Thekohnian Order will be read aloud for all to hear.”

“For all to hear?” Law asked. “You’re going to hold a press conference? Am I missing something here, Johan?”

“I’m sure you’re aware of it already, but there will be public talks that will be broadcast on the radio,” Johan said. “Well, as it so happens, there are several unused frequencies that we can use.”

“It’s a risk, but it may be the best chance we’ve got,” Gavin said. “Of course, I know little about operating radios and crap like that, so I assume you have a way of doing that?”

“Leave that stuff to me,” Johan said. “I work best when no one is watching me, after all.”

Gavin sighed. “More like when you have everything under control.”

“Guess we settled that,” Johan said. “So, buddy, there’s just one thing that I need you to do for me.”

“What’s that?” Sorin asked.

“We need to deal with Korbin and his men somehow,” Johan replied. “I’m beyond certain that he’s up to something. Something bad.”

“And you want me to deal with him,” Sorin said. “I don’t really want to fight with him, especially not during this time.”

“I don’t need you to fight him either, nor do I want you to,” Johan said. “We just need to distract him, that’s all. We just have to throw him off so I can execute our plan without a problem.”

“A distraction is a good idea,” Law said, “But how are we going to do that? You have a plan for that, too?”

Johan managed a smile. “There’s no reason why I can’t come up with one,” he said. “This plan was just for Sorin; either way, though, I guess it doesn’t hurt to have you two on the case.”

“You know full well that we work as a team,” Gavin said.

“Team or not, the plan is what we must stick to,” Johan replied. “Whether or not you are able to keep is all on you.”

“I don’t think I appreciate what you’re saying to me,” Gavin replied. “If you’re looking to succeed in your plan, then you can’t go wrong with having strength in numbers!”

“You may be right about that, but isn’t it also true that we shouldn’t draw too much attention to ourselves?” Johan asked. “Especially when you’re going around waving that gun of yours.”

“Try me, asshole,” Gavin said. “I’ll be sure to knock your ass flat if you try to come at me.”

“Gavin, Johan, please, let’s just try not having a fight here,” Sorin said. “It’s the last thing we want right now.”

“I don’t know that, Sorin,” Law said. “It really seems like my bro has a point here for once.”

“As long as we are able to make Isaac Kunigunde’s intentions known, I truly don’t care what you two do,” Jelka said. “If we’re to bring down everyone inside Foundation down, then we must go for the head.”

“Right, as it has been said before,” Johan said. “We can’t afford to keep going after those at the bottom of the ladder. We’ve done a lot of chasing, but now it’s time for us to head Isaac off before he makes his next move.”

“It makes sense,” Gavin said. “Very well, if your part of the plan involves you reading off some letters, then where does that leave the rest of us?”

Law tapped the side of his head. “Weren’t you listening, bro? We’re the ones that are going to make sure this guy can read the secret letters over the airwaves without any interference.”

“Right,” Gavin replied, “And that involves making sure that Korbin Mars and his rowdy bunch of assholes don’t find you.”

“I don’t care how you do it,” Johan said. “I just know that you will do it.”

“Isn’t that how you’ve always operated, though?” Law asked. “Relying on other people to do the stuff you won’t do, subtly directing others towards your end result… Even when you pretended to bite the dust, you were working all of us, even Sorin.”

Johan turned and began to walk away. “Why would I answer that?”

Law chuckled. “I guess I was right,” he said. “Well, if that’s how you want to play, then I suppose I can play by your rules.”

By that time, however, Johan already left the room. There was no goodbye from him, just the sudden, abrupt end of a conversation that Sorin did not expect. Things were getting serious. Sorin sighed and looked over to Jelka, who appeared to be just as surprised as he was.

“Unless you have something else to add, I will see you tomorrow,” she said. “Remember: we must bring all of these truths to light.”

With that, Jelka left. Nothing else was said as Sorin left the building with Gavin and Law in tow. All it made for was a silent car trip back to the city as the three men pondered on what they had to do to make sure that Korbin and his men would not cause a commotion in the coming days.


To be continued…


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