After the war of 1972, world leaders made the superior decision of splitting the surviving ten million people into six distinctly different domains - merging culture, religion as well as language in order to live in their own perspective territory. Each domain is ruled by a Prime Minister, guaranteeing that all persons be provided by whatever they need to survive.
Over the years, it had remained peaceful, but five nations soon began to display their desires for more territorial claims. Only the nation of Siho remains in neutral grounds, choosing the side of peace.
To prevent another war from breaking out, Siho's Prime Minister created the National Guards Alliance, a special defense army that vows to fight for peace and order. They act as the kingdom's peacekeepers, and are made up of men not only from Siho but also those who sided with Siho's beliefs.
Anna, a Siho native, is accustomed to seeing men in uniform roaming around town since she was a child, but the presence of a new face awakens her curiosity, and ultimately, her heart.
This is a love story of a young couple,of a different world, in a different time, where war is inevitable.
Chapter Two: A MIDNIGHT MEETING
"Forgive me Anna, but there is still no word on his whereabouts."
The weather was glum. It had been raining continuously for three whole days, making several puddles on the uneven cemented road. The season had made things tougher for everyone to go out and play, but a faint sound of children singing enveloped the crying city. She recognized it to be a common children's song.
Anna listened carefully to soft pitter-patter of raindrops on the roof, every drop beating harder than the next.
She stood outside her house with a red umbrella, holding it tightly as the messenger brought her the same sad news regarding her father.
"Do you think something happened to him, Sahl?" She spoke with her head down. "He couldn't possibly be dead, could he?"
Sahl took a step forward and squeezed her hand.
"I'm sure he's fine, Anna. Your father is a strong man. He can take care of himself."
"You know he can't cook. He could barely change his clothes everyday."
"But he's a warrior. He trained me, didn't he?" Replied Sahl. " A useless young boy from Valkondh. The bigger ones used to bully me for being too small and having black hair instead of red. Your father grabbed me by the collar one day and showed me how to use a knife."
Anna's eyes lit up. "Your mother screamed when she saw you that day."
He nodded. "Trained me pretty well, if you ask me. Years later and there isn't a weapon I can't use."
Sahl bent down to grab the large gray duffel bag beside him.
"I need to go now. I'm being sent out in an hour."
With his free hand, Sahl grabbed Anna and pulled her close to his chest.
"I promise to find him, so listen to my request."
"What is it?"
"Don't focus too much on books, or your eyes will go bad. Don't go anywhere out late at night, don't talk to strange people, and do try to think about me from time to time."
"I'm always thinking about you. You and father, both."
As he let her go, Anna watched him walk away. It was the same sight, two years ago, when her father, Captain James R. Elixon of the National Guards left for a peacekeeping mission in Sonddor, a nation in the South of Siho that is famously known for their reactive thoughts and collective desire of another war. The population in Sonddor is small, but they desire for land more than every other nation. Two years ago, her father led his team out there to ensure the safety of those planning to take refuge in Siho. Yet, many days had gone by and nobody has heard anything about them.
The days turned to weeks, and then months, then years.
"Be safe, father." She whispered. "Be safe, Sahl."
Anna went back inside the house. After boiling some hot water, she grabbed the kettle and poured just a little bit to a cup with a spoonful of matcha powder. She stirred it until it turned into a thick green paste. After adding more water, she looked at the cup, satisfied with its consistency. She took a sip, and then settled herself in front of a window. She closed her eyes, and let her mind take over.
At once, she went back to that time, when she was a lot younger, in a little storage room where they stocked mountains of ripe wheat. She could remember the strong scent, like a batch of freshly baked bread in a Sunday morning.
She remembers crouching down in the darkest corner of the room, her eyes shut and her ears covered by her small hands. A few hours ago, she spotted a large snake in the forest swallowing an entire chicken, blood spluttering all over its mouth as it looked right at her. Fortunately, Sahl was able to kill the snake before it could get near Anna, yet the memory never left her mind. It repeated in her brain over and over again. It was too vivid.
When she hid in the storage room, she remembered as her father entered the room with a look of worry in his expression. He crouched down in front of her, and explained the best way he possibly can.
"My love, you have a special gift. Your mother had it too. An eidetic memory, that is."
Her father nodded.
"Your brain is like a camera, where it takes photographs of every single thing you see, hear and even smell. What you saw today, you will remember very vividly for the rest of your life."
"But father, I don't want to keep seeing that snake, I don't want to."
She started to bawl her eyes out, and her father placed his heavy hand on top her head.
"Then we just have to make nice memories. Good ones, with Sahl, your classmates, and the people of Siho. Wouldn't that solve everything?"
She started to nod her head.
"But Anna, you must promise me one thing. This is a promise I want you to keep, for as long as you possibly can. Even I'm not here, you have to keep it."
"What is it, father?"
"That whatever happens, Anna, do not tell anyone of your gift. If the wrong people find out, they will want to use your ability for evil. You should not trust anyone. Promise me that."
Anna took another sip of her matcha tea.
"I promise, father. No matter what."
Placing the cup down, she looked at the old clock hanged on the wall.
She stood up and started to get ready for work. She took a quick shower, and then dried her bare skin with a cotton towel. She put on pale pink-colored undergarments, and then her uniform - a loose, navy green, knee-length dress with long sleeves that reach past her elbow. She put her hair in a bun, and then she grabbed her black loafers and popped her feet inside it before leaving the house.
The small clinic, where she worked full-time as a receptionist, wasn't far from where she lived. In fact, it was only two blocks away, just behind the camp.
It had been a week since the new dispatch from across the kingdom had started to arrive, and they all must be given physical examination to ensure their physical and mental health are both stable.
For a second, she thought about Daniel, but her hope of seeing him tonight was grim. He arrived six days ago, which meant a doctor inside the camp should have already examined him.
Ten minutes later, she was standing in the entrance of the two-floor building. It was lacking creativity both inside and out with white as its primary color, but Anna wasn't the creative type to actually paint the walls either. Sighing, she walked inside to find a few men sitting frigidly in their seats as they waited to be called.
"Glad to see you today," said Olivia, a beautiful blonde woman that Anna was to relieve of duties. She was older than Anna by only a few years, yet her way of doing things had always been so flawless and adept that Anna wondered if she could be a bit as capable as her.
"There are a lot of them coming anytime now. New dispatch from Valkondh too. They arrived this morning."
Anna almost groaned. They weren't exactly the friendliest people out there.
Olivia got up, and passed the files to her. "Goodnight, love."
She checked inside to find the three doctors working on their patients, so she sat back in front to confirm the next batch.
As time passed by, the numbers dwindled down. She could almost say it was an easy shift, until three large men entered the clinic with heavy footsteps.
Each of them had long, disheveled red hair, untamed beards, and bulky arms. Anna knew it was too good to be true.
She heard their loud voices from outside , even with the doors still closed.
"Hello. Identity cards, please."
The men in the middle slammed his fist on the counter.
"VALKONDH! We are the fighting legends that have come to save you lot. Identity cards are not needed in our case."
The other two snickered like two little children behind him. " Now, where are those doctors? I want this done and over with so we can get a drink."
"My apologies, but identity cards are mandatory in order to complete your physical examination," she explained. "We need to make records of-"
"Hey, girlie, don't you hear me? We gotta get this done right now!" The man in the middle swore, and moved away from the counter. Anna was starting to feel helpless as the three men started to make their way inside the examination room. But before they could pass, Anna ran past them and blocked the hallway with her body.
"They are currently dealing with another patient. Gentlemen, please sit down!"
"DAMN IT, GIRLIE. GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY, I SAID!" At once, the man grabbed her shoulder and pushed her away, and she landed in the counter, hitting the side of her hip.
"Ah blimey, you shouldn't have done that," said another as they watch her struggle to get up.
"Close your eyes."
It was a voice that she was familiar with. Without turning back, she did what she was told, and then she felt someone from behind run up to place a number on the man who dared push her. Anna heard him groan after getting knocked to the ground.
"Who the hell do you think you are!?" She heard another man say, and she listened as heavy footsteps came inching closer to Daniel, but he spared no time and kicked the back of the man's knees. He fell down to the ground, and Anna was smart enough to move herself away before he landed on the floor.
"This is why I hate you men from Valkondh," she heard Daniel grumble under his breath."Acting like ruffians everywhere you go."
Anna watched as the third man carried his two companions in his shoulders.
"Sorry, sweetheart. It was the jetlag. We'll come by another time," he said before walking out.
Daniel ran to Anna and helped her up.
"You alright?" He asked, and she nodded.
He was shaking his knuckles. It had gotten a little bruised from the round. "Big and tough," she heard him say, " but they're seriously quite stupid."
Anna quickly grabbed the first aid kit and sat him down. Quietly, she put betadine in a small cotton bud and dabbed it on his fresh cut. She heard him squirm a little, so she did it harder.
"I get this feeling that you're doing this on purpose," said Daniel. "...Hold on-OW!"
"Did that hurt?" She asked nonchalantly. When he nodded, she dabbed the cotton bud with even more pressure, making his agony heard with a quick yelp. His hand grabbed her wrist quickly and held it up in the air.
"I'm sorry for whatever I did," he said, and she could almost see a tear forming in his eye. "But what you're doing is even worse than any gunshot wound."
"Don't do that again," she ordered him. "You'll be working with them, you know. If you cause a rift now, it will be hard to fix it later."
"Well, not really...Ouch!"
Daniel snatched the cotton bud from her hand, and threw it to the ground.
At closer inspection, Anna noticed that the side of his face was swelling. His right cheek had obtained a small cut beside his nose, and his lower lips had also been cut.
Like a recovering street fighter.
"How's combat training?" She asked as she reached for a cotton ball this time.
"You should see the other guy," he announced proudly, but he wiped the smile off his face when she pulled his head down to dab a bit of ointment on a cut in the side of his forehead. Then she placed a Band-Aid on it.
"What are you doing here today? It's late." She tapped the Band-Aid one more time before tilting his head back to place. "Haven't gotten your tests done yet?"
"I didn't have time." Daniel answered quietly. "I didn't know you work here too. You must have done this a lot."
"No. Doing this," he pointed to first aid kit beside her.
"Of course," she said coolly. "Who do you think I am?"
A few seconds lingered before two more soldiers entered the clinic. As Anna went to assist them, one of the doctors walked out of the examination room and called Daniel's name, and they both went inside, completely unaware of Anna's crimson red face.
Thank you for reading the second chapter of Hansel's Lover! Please let me know what you think.