Hansel's Lover - Chapter TwentyChapter twenty of the Hansel's Lover series.
"The former General Vincent Milkov arrived in Siho last night," reported the secretary who stood perfectly still across the mahogany coffee table, separating him from the man he was reporting to. After many years of service, Sebas still couldn't figure out why chills would run his body every time they made contact.
"Has he left?" The man asked.
"Not yet," Sebas replied. "In fact, he even made contact with the Elixons. There hasn't been any report of him leaving the territory since then. Our men are trying to find him, but he hasn't been spotted since."
The man huffed a sigh. "He has become much more vigilant than before. Still smart despite the age".
"You're not very young yourself," replied Sebas, who then covered his mouth and turned his head down. "Forgive me for that comment."
The man laughed. "This is why I like you. You never minced your words. Not even to me".
The man stood up, and he reached for the name plate sitting idly on the side of his table. Crafted with gold, he found his name and title engraved proudly on the center - Arthur Seeps, Prime Minister of Ezterdelle
"A few months back, I was surprised to hear that the current Captain of the National Guards' Recon Division walked into our territory with the Elixon's daughter in order to meet him."
He placed his nameplate down.
"And now, Milkov went over there to pay them a visit. That feisty dog never ventures out anymore. For him to be publicly showing himself - it means he's up to something. No, they're up to something."
"It appeared that he came to Siho to give the doctor a set of antitoxins, aiming to help Captain Elixon recover. The former captain has finally been rescued by our territory's Recon team after being detained in Sonddor for two years."
"I know," replied Seeps. "He came to get those antitoxins directly from me, after all."
The secretary tilted his head. He had no idea about this at all. "Is that why you came to Andestris?"
"I made him wait 5 hours," replied Seeps.
"Sir, just how important is this man, that even you would do his bidding?"
"Enough for me to go there myself," replied Seeps. "Milkov is a man not to be ignored. Time and time again, his talent and abilities had proven himself worthy of becoming a Prime Minister in any territory he would so desire to lead, yet he decided to remain under the shadows. Yet now, he went out of his way to provide medicine for an old friend, which he had no real contact with for years. Tell me - is that not suspicious?"
Sebas bit his lip. "You're right, sir."
Seeps gazed outside the window. "Milkov, the former Captain Elixon, and the current Captain Han - do you see what connects them, Sebas?" He shook his head. "No, do you know who?"
"Not quite, sir." Sebas curled his forehead. "Tis' true that Anna Elixon is the daughter of the former Captain, as well as the current Captain's lover - but I do not see what connects her to Milkov."
And suddenly, realization hits the secretary.
"Anna Elixon had taken in the identity of Gretel Milkov when she resided here a few months back."
"Three powerful men - all connected to this one woman," said Seeps. "How old is she again?"
Sebas let out a throaty cough. "Old enough to be your daughter, sir."
Seeps sighed. "That is not what I meant, you insolent fool."
"I know, sir. I was merely trying to lighten up the mood. Tis' not exactly peaceful."
Seeps waved the secretary away.
Slumping down to his chair, he bent down to open a locked case hidden underneath a secret compartment of his enormous desk. He lifted the case to his table, where he rolled the lock, carefully choosing the right numbers before opening the case.
He sneezed loudly as dust that built up over the years began to fly away, daring to go up to is nostrils. It had been years after all. Once opened, he reached for its content.
It was a rusty old journal, with the words "Mission E" encrypted on top.
Seeps made an arrangement with Siho's General Romero months prior. In this arrangement, he agreed to use the Ezterdelle's Recon team to aid in recovering Captain Elixon, but in exchange must be given whichever document he desired. The journal was rusty, as expected, but there was nothing in it, which Seeps didn't already know. He knew why General Romero was more than willing to give the journal away. After all, it was missing the most important pages - the ones revealing the identity of the woman used in the experiment.
Seeps, who happen to be very smart, also boasts of being extremely careful.
He knew it would be reckless to confront anyone about this, as people involved have already been affected in more ways than one.
But if there's one thing he's sure of, it's that Milkov is involved in this matter, just as Captain Elixon was. Milkov, who Seeps suspect is protecting Elixon's daughter.
"Elixon..." Seeps thought. "Who was he married to?"
He stopped. "Ah.." But of course.
"Sebas!" He roared, and the secretary came running inside.
"What is it, sire?"
"Make the necessary preparations. I want to leave in two day's time."
"Siho," answered Seeps. "I have some friends I'd like to visit."
At this point, Anna knew she's inside a dream.
Perhaps, it had to with the fact that she was walking barefoot in the middle of a lush forest unknown to her, the cold moss brushing against the tips of her toes.
There are no mossy forests where she lives.
"Cold," she thought, but she continued walking. Then she heard a gunshot.
"There's too many," she said to herself, and she began to run. She thought about running to the opposite direction of where she thought the gunshots had come from, but soon she heard the firings coming from every direction of the forest, each round more vigorous than the next.
"No," she whispered. I'm in the middle of a battlefield.
Before she could move, she saw a group of men coming out of nowhere, running furiously in her direction. They waved a Sonddor flag as they ran.
"No," she mouthed. She looked around for a place to hide, but they were running so fast with their guns in their hands that she could only hide her face.
"Stop", she whimpered. She expected to be hit, to be tossed to the ground or even just fall down from being shot, but instead the platoon passed her as if she wasn't even there.
"Can they not see me?" She thought. Her eyes followed the troop as they disappeared into the forest, and soon she heard another platoon coming from the other side of the forest. This time, they waved the Ezterdelle's flag. These men were Ezterdelle soldiers.
When they came out in plain view, she realized that they too, could not see her.
They were followed by soldiers representing Siho, while she saw the flag of Andestris being waved right behind.
"What does this mean?" She thought to herself. To see all four territories in battle, something absolutely horrid must have happened. Someone great must have appeared.
Someone so great that all four territories are fighting.
"Anna!" She heard someone call from afar. "Anna!"
"I'm here," she yelled back, and she began to run to where the voice was coming from.
A few seconds later, she saw that Daniel was standing alone in the middle of a meadow, his eyes furiously searching for someone as he held his rifle up.
"Anna!" he called out again.
"I'm here!" She called back, hoping to get his attention. Instead Daniel ran to the bushes, where he stopped suddenly.
"No!" he shouted. "This can't be true."
He dropped his rifle to the floor, and he rushed to a body lying idly behind the bush.
Blood was everywhere.
"Who is it," she thought as she moved forward. Then she too, stood still after realizing it was.
Daniel knelt to the ground, his arms enveloping the women's lifeless body as tightly as he could. Her torso had been ripped apart, her body covered in bruises as blood rushed from her head.
"Anna," he cried. "My dearest Anna..."
Anna opened her eyes.
"You're awake," said a man's voice from other side of the bed.
"Daniel..." she grabbed him, her arms tightly squeezing his sides. "Daniel."
"I'm here,' he replied, and his lips brushed the top of her head.
"Oh, don't mind me."
She looked on the foot of the bed to find Dr. Carson with his clipboard in hand.
At once she pushed Daniel away. "I'm sorry, Doctor."
She smiled at him, but soon reality hit as she felt Daniel squeezing her right hand. She realized that she was inside the hospital room.
Daniel's hands felt cold.
"How long have I been out?"
"Four days," answered Dr. Carson. You collapsed Tuesday morning. It's midnight on a Thursday now." He closed his clipboard. "This is a new record for you, Anna. Have you been taking your medicine?"
She nodded. "But we both know it does nothing."
He sighed. His attention then turned to Daniel. "Captain, do you really not intend to leave tonight?"
"Positive," he replied.
Nodding, Dr. Carson excused himself. "I'll come back tomorrow morning. Both of you should get some rest.
Daniel got up to see Dr. Carson off. After closing the door, he went back to her.
"You scared me," he said as he stroked the side of her face.
"Where did I fall?" She asked.
"Inside the house, moments after seeing Milkov off. You suddenly collapsed to the ground." He squeezed her hand. "Anna, this is your second fall this month."
Anna looked down on the floor.
"When you didn't wake up after a day, I became restless. I asked Dr. Carson if you were going to be alright, but he simply shrugged and said its normal for you to be unconscious for days. That it is normal and nothing to worry about".
She looked at the man beside her, his eyes filled with fear and worry. She could tell he had just come back from an assignment, his uniform more ruffled than usual. She even saw his duffel bag on the side.
"When I came back this morning, you were still sleeping. I..." He didn't say anything afterwards, but she knew what he was going to say.
I thought you might never wake up again.
"Guess I won't be telling him about the dream I just had," she thought.
"How long has this been happening?" asked Daniel. "Is it truly normal for you to be asleep for that long?" He paused. "Back then when I came to get you, you told me you were asleep for three days and have just woken up. I truly believed you were simply joking."
Anna watched Daniel as he scratched his head, his head turning away like a little child who had just gotten in trouble.
She chuckled. "It started since I was fifteen. At first, we thought it was anemia. But the falls happen even at my best days. The doctors couldn't find any visible triggers, but..." she held her head. "I can't tell them it sometimes happen when I call recall certain events I would rather forget. Painful memories, mostly. It also happened when..." She paused.
"When?" Asked Daniel.
She looked at him. "I fell asleep a few days after Sahl's death. The memory of seeing his body in that body bag. I remember vividly that his chest rose two more times. For a brief moment I thought he might still be alive."
Anna masked herself with a chuckle, but she wiped it off as Daniel's arms wrapped around her.
"After Sahl was laid to rest, I visited his grave every night to ask for his forgiveness. I wanted him to forgive this horrible bastard for falling in love with the woman he held feelings for, for all these years. I wanted him to forgive this horrible bastard for being a coward, because although I couldn't face you, I couldn't forget about you either."
Daniel sunk his head down, his forehead pressing on Anna's right shoulder.
"Do you want to elope, Anna? We can live in that small town I found in the outskirt of Andestris, where people live peaceful lives. It boasts of trees as large as the ones you find here, a meadow where our children can run around as far as they want. There would be-"
He stopped talking, as Anna grabbed his chin up and kissed him. She pushed Daniel down the bed, and she crawled up above him, her eyes inviting him forward. He complied by grabbing her waist and pressing her to him, and their mouth searched for each other.
"We can do this later," huffed Daniel. "You're still weak..."
"It's okay," Anna said softly, and her lips nibbled the side of his ear.
She had no idea that it would trigger so much, and suddenly he spun her around, her back landing on the bed. Daniel took his shirt off, and he began kissing the nape of her neck. His kisses were no longer gentle. His lips started feel rough against her skin, they felt hungry.
He was hungry for her.
"I didn't know this side of you," whispered Anna, and she suddenly covered her mouth as she almost made an impure sound as his hand went down a little further than she expected it to be.
"Neither did I," he whispered back.
Anna turned her head to the door. "Someone can come in."
"The door's locked," he replied. "I told him I'd sleep here tonight. And it's midnight, no one will be here."
Anna giggled. "Were you expecting anything tonight?" She said as she cupped his face. He turned his head and nibbled on her index finger.
"You initiated this, Ms. Elixon. Now, will you let me?"
"Of course," she replied. "Tonight, and every night after that... I'm yours."
When James was a lieutenant, he recovered a journal through an operation that he never wanted to take part of. It was through these records that he discovered about the human experiment, happening right in Siho, on a sickly woman named Emilia Nielson.
The same Emilia Nielson he had been intending to be his lover, but was unable to, as her heart belonged to Vincent Milkov, the youngest general in the history of the alliance.
Without hesitation, he ripped the pages that revealed Emilia's identity, handed the journal to his superior, and visited Milkov's quarters. He told him everything.
"They have been giving her something to stop her from feeling anything in her stomach," said James. "She is two months pregnant, but because of her small frame and sickly body, the bump is not too visible. What do you want me to do?"
Vincent's face paled, and his fist pierced through the wall. Blood splattered to the floor, as he mouthed the words in agony.
"Pregnant," Vincent repeated. "Emilia's pregnant..."
"You didn't know?" Asked James.
Vincent shook his head. "I haven't had any time to see her. They've kept me away all this time, and Emilia... she always had to go to the hospital. Her constitution had never been great, ever since we were young." He closed his eyes. "How dare they..."
At that moment, James knew he had to hold Vincent down. Before Vincent could launch away from his quarters, James pushed him down.
"There are ten people involved in this experiment, General. Very powerful people, more powerful that you are. Ones that can move as many people as they want at will." James handed the ripped pages from Vincent. "If you do anything rash now, you could harm Emilia, and the child she's carrying."
As the word child left his lips, James could not help but feel a pang of pain. He knew it was hopeless, to be in love with such a wonderful woman, knowing that behind her was a man as wonderful as she is.
General Milkov showed the greatest potential in the alliance. His capabilities in battle, his wits and his vigor promised him a great position in the Zuwan kingdom. He could not compare himself with such a man. That's why what happened next was a shot out of the blue.
As Vincent got up, he turned his head to James.
"Lieutenant," said Vincent, "do you love Emilia?"
James was taken aback by the General's question. He wanted to vehemently deny it, but denying his own feelings for her would be lying to himself. So he told him the truth, as one man to another.
"Since the day I first met her," he answered. "But she loves you as much as I love her." James looked up at the man in front of him. "I won't give up, if that's what you are asking."
Milkov closed his eyes.
"I don't want you to."
"General, what are you planning?"
"The Alliance is made up of people very capable of finding out the truth. Hiding these pages will do nothing but delay the time it will take for them to find out that Emilia had been experimented on. For peace, the Alliance swore to eliminate threat. I know, very well, that they will eliminate her once they discover her identity."
"Do you want me to help you two run away?" Asked James. "I can make it happen."
"You will do no such thing. You will soon be promoted to Captain of the prestigious Reconnaissance Division. You cannot blemish your name."
"I can say the same to you, General. They plan to make you the Prime Minister of Siho very soon."
"I cannot hold a position that will make Emilia vulnerable. If I go back now, people will start to dig information about me. That includes Emilia. If it becomes exposed that Emilia gained these abilities as you say the records have shown, then she will be vulnerable to all seven territories, including the Alliance itself, who will aim to eliminate her." Milkov put his head down. "And the child, what does it say about our child?"
"They anticipate that your child might gain those same abilities," said James, clenching his fingers into a tight fist. "I'm sorry, General."
"Go to Siho, and show them the records," ordered Milkov. "Except for the pages that identifies Emilia, reveal the truth to the board. Because if you do not, I am sure someone will, and they will be suspicious of you. Instead, tell them about what you found," he paused. "Tell them that in this kingdom lies a mother and her unborn child, subjected to human experimentation."
"And you, General, what will you do?"
Milkov stood up. "I will eliminate every single one that created the experiment."
"I will tell Emilia of this, so she awaits your return."
Milkov shook his head. "Lieutenant, I will no longer go back to Siho."
Stunned, James ran up and grabbed Milkov by the collar. "You dare leave Emilia alone? With your unborn child?"
"She won't be alone, because she will have you. The woman I love, and our unborn child, will only have a chance to live if I do not return."
James opened his eyes.
White walls and an old wall fan were the first to enter his vision, followed by the sight of an old man in a lab coat.
"Have you always had those wrinkles, Carson? You've aged. Greatly, too."
Dr. Carson cracked a smile.
"Ah, how I've missed the insults. You really are awake now, Captain Elixon. Your daughter will be thrilled."