The twelve captured were armed, but it was nothing more than crude daggers and rusty pickaxes. Eyeing them suspiciously, Kavlina had a kind of hostility printed on her face, while Avalel stood by, confused at this situation with a blank look on his pale face.
“Um, Kavlina, what exactly are you doing?” Avalel asked, eyeing the captured foresters. He had never seen them before, and yet he felt pity for them. These foresters were clearly not skilled in combat, as Kavlina could easily defeat them all.
“Lel, maybe you should ask this question: just what are they doing here?”
One of the foresters piped up. “Sorry to disturb you, but we are actually foresters and workers for Rithul. We were told to build a path wide enough for eight to ten people here. We didn’t want to use machines because we’re afraid they will be hacked.”
“Shush, Rehael!” another snapped, “They might be working for the royalists!” The forester then turned to Avalel and Kavlina. “Maybe I should ask this question: What are you doing here? Why did we run into two people and got captured when there was supposed to be no one nearby here?”
Avalel and Kavlina gave each other a glance. The eye contact confirmed the other’s approval, and Avalel began, “I’m Avalel. This is Kavlina. We’re inhabitants of the Tarevuen trying to reach your leader. We have an important message to deliver.”
“Wait, what? That wasn’t what I wanted you to say!” Kavlina rushed up in an attempt to clamp Avalel’s mouth shut, but it was too late as the words escaped from Avalel’s mouth. “It’s regarding the son of Stasibel and heir of Achien.”
“Oh, bother,” Kavlina exasperatedly sighed as shock was imprinted on the foresters’ faces.
“You mean the line of Achien monarchs hasn’t ended yet?” The forester called Rehael asked. Avalel nod his head. “Then, please, we would gladly lead you two to our leader. If you know the whereabouts of the son of Stasibel, then we’ll capture him and kill him, and we will reward you handsomely.”
Avalel gulped. That wasn’t what he had expected. However, Kavlina had already walked up and released her knives and ropes from the twelve foresters. “Lead us to your leader. I trust you by the fact that you are cousins of our kin. We are foresters too, and we deeply trust our kin. However...” she then violently grabbed onto a piece of rope, and cut it to pieces with her knife, “If you betray our trust, then expect your death to be like this piece of rope.”
Just then, there was a small buzz in one of the forester’s pockets. “Please could I get my hologram?” He then retrieved his hologram, and an image of a tall woman was shown.
“Hey, Taq, is the work going on well?”
“We entered into a bit of trouble, president. Two foresters from the Tarevuen wants to meet you.”
“It’s fine. Guide them to here in base camp, and we’ll see what they have for the well-being of Rithul. Best wishes!” The hologram abruptly shut down.
“Follow us,” the foresters told Avalel and Kavlina, “Our base camp is just down at the bottom of the mountains. By the time we arrive, the guards will probably already know of our presence and errands, so no worries on opposition.”
The way down was a much smoother travel than the way up. With a path that was wide and well paved, they could even start jogging down with their heavy bags. Amazingly, the path down only took them about two to three hours, as the sight of the Rithul base camp loomed before them.
“Welcome to base camp!” The foresters excitedly proclaimed. Avalel and Kavlina were puzzled, however, staring at the base camp before them.
“Uh, what? This is base camp?” There was only one run-down shed in the area, and apart from some shrubs and trees blocking their view, there was nothing that stood out in their range of sight. The wind gently touched their clothing and skin, but it was not enough to comfort their disappointment.
“Yes. This is base camp,” the foresters said, walking towards the shed. Disappointed, Avalel and Kavlina walked inside the shed… and found a blank platform. Puzzled, both Avalel and Kavlina were taken by surprise as the platform suddenly descended towards the underground. Dim blue lights surrounded them, and there were distant noises of some sort. When the platform stopped, a steel door lay before them. A green light now descended on them, as if it was a scanner of some sort. Finally, the steel door opened, and the full view of the Rithul base camp was shown before Avalel and Kavlina’s eyes.
The Rithul base camp was filled with people and machines. There were fully-armed Rithul soldiers dressed in thick armor, there were lightly-armed scouts, there were workers like the foresters, and of course, there were little Palon look-alikes dashing across the ground.
As the foresters led Avalel and Kavlina through the complicated passageways, both of them were awed by the sight of the base camp. It was very well organized in a grid-like fashion, and it was always bustling with activity. Some of the soldiers and workers waved at them and they politely waved back.
Finally, they reached the headquarters. The guards motioned the twelve foresters to stay outside while allowing Avalel and Kavlina to enter. Walking through a straight and well-lighted corridor, they reached the quarters of the President. Doors sliding open, they found the President casually seated on a hovering chair.
“Welcome, foresters of Tarevuen! I heard that you all defended well against the Achien troops eight years ago. Now, what do you have for me? I’m listening.”
Kavlina motioned for Avalel to speak. “Well, we decided to come here to deliver a message and to assist your war efforts to overthrow the Achien government,” Avalel began, “I’m sure your worker has mentioned about us talking about the son of Stasibel, correct?”
The President motioned for her guards to exit. “Yes, please continue.”
“Sixteen years ago, Stasibel died in a battle, leaving a dying Queen Macrera and a newborn child. Eight years ago, Common Leader Nasition gained power and wanted to kill the heir of Achien, hence which he attacked the Tarevuen. The eight-year-old child of Stasibel at that time lost his adopted father in that conflict, and eight years later, on this day, that child now stands in front of the President of Rithul, reciting the events that has been told through his adopted father’s mouth and to reveal himself in front of the President.”
The President was stunned. “You, a child from the Tarevuen, the heir?” Avalel nod in reply. Even though the President showed no sign of fear, inside she was worried. Could this child really be the one?
“To prove that you are honest and not a fraud, we would like you to take a genetics test.” She then turned for the door, but abruptly stopped. “Also, why would you come to us? You know our ultimate aim is to overthrow the Achien government, correct? We have every right to kill you right on the spot, so be thankful that you are still alive.”
Avalel paused. “You don’t know we’re both armed?”
Two humanoid drone guards suddenly marched in. “Please hand over your weapons, as this is Rithul territory, and unauthorized personnel cannot wield weapons of any kind.” Kavlina handed over her daggers and knives, but all Avalel handed to them was a little metal bracelet decorated with an ornate gem.
“Is that your weapon?” The President asked.
“You’ll know it’s one soon enough,” Avalel answered, and followed the guards to a chamber.
The chamber was a simple white room with some machines buzzing about. There was a little hovering chair by the corner connected to a large cabinet of some sort with a several wires. The guards motioned Avalel to sit down on the chair, and Avalel did accordingly. The chair was quite comfortable, but there was some kind of disturbing buzzing sound coming from within.
Avalel felt a jab of pain. There was a tiny needle that sprang up and stabbed his wrist. Then, as suddenly as it came, it shrunk back inside the chair. A machine inside the room brought up some kind of plaster bandage and wrapped it around Avalel’s wrist.
“The test is done, sir. You may exit the chamber now,” The guards monotonously announced. Avalel slowly walked out, perplexed by what just happened inside the chamber. As he re-entered the President’s quarters, he saw Kavlina and the President staring at a large monitor on the wall. It simply said: processing.
“Oh, hey Lel,” Kavlina said, “Come look at your results!”
“What was that needle jab for?” Avalel asked.
“The needle was to quickly collect a drop of your blood and analyze it. It’s currently processing, but the results will come quick,” the President replied. A soft beep emulated from the monitor. “Oh, it’s finished processing.”
The monitor displayed the results from Avalel’s blood. “Name: Avalel. Health: normal. Possible blood-related diseases: none. Approximate age: 16 years. Ethnicity: 65% Smarinian, 34% Staegondian, 1% other. Parent(s): Stasibel son of Norivel, Macrera daughter of Plavera. Possible notable ancient relatives: Queen Elethien.” Avalel and Kavlina breathed a sigh of relief. The results had proven Avalel’s heritage, and his identity is now solid.
The President turned to them. “I know you two came here for a reason other than to prove you, Avalel, are the heir of Achien. Tell me, what is the reason you two came here?”
“We want the help of Rithul to reclaim the throne of the House of Elethien from Nasition,” Avalel began, “However, we know you want conditions since your original aim was simply to overthrow the government. In return for assisting me to reclaim the throne, I will establish a constitutional monarchy where the monarch’s power will be controlled by the people. As for Rithul and other rebel groups that may assist me in any way, I will give their representatives seats in the parliament and assist in drafting the first constitution in addition to the laws we already have.”
“Do you really think Rithul can take over the strengthened military of Achien? This base camp may look fancy, but it is only the best we can offer. There is no more than 100,000 soldiers in here compared to the nearby Achien 1st army with 500,000. Our technology is far inferior than the recently developed Achien elite drone battalion. We are lacking in resources to even supply our troops, and without drones, we can only use living beings as our soldiers, unlike the almost-fully mechanized Achien military,” the President explained, “However, with the recent improved relations with the Efla rebel organization, I believe we can still stand a chance if we combined our forces and pooled in massive amounts of resources into this campaign.”
“What do you mean?” Avalel asked.
“I need at least one of you to delegate with the leaders of Efla for a combined offensive. Efla, unlike us, just wants the end of any absolute power in one person and they despise the Common Leader, so I believe you can convince them of your cause.”
“I’ll go,” Kavlina boldly stepped up, “I just need a few escorts and supplies to last me the trip there.”
A few weeks later, Avalel and Kavlina now sat at their outdoor camp with the twelve foresters as the time for the battle drew near. The combined forces of Efla and Rithul gathered from all nearby bases were now ready at the pass, numbering at about 500,000. Most of the elite battalions of Efla were gathered at the front lines, while the Mutsalins of Rithul have already set off to cause chaos behind the lines. The Elyfesta had now pierced its first rays on the field. The time has come.