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Quintember 16th, 2013 AR

ERA Cottage, Mt. Amiro

 

Rono Kenuk sat at his table, staring long and hard at the army of currency notes laid out in front of him. He had a laptop opened up to a map of Borokanis, with placemarks on Arabal Hill in Metriga, and the former Great Apiki Adventure amusement park in Hinga City.

 

In front of the desk was a sofa, upon which sat an Aruman woman. She was playing with the hair of a man who was sleeping on her lap.

 

“Seruto bello,” said June. “We’ve been sitting here doing nothing all morning.”

 

The man on her lap stirred.

 

“Right,” muttered Seruto.

 

“I’m not complaining,” said June. “But I thought being married to a treasure hunter would be more exciting than this.”

Seruto got up and stretched his arms. He scratched his upper lip; there used to be a moustache there, but not anymore.

 

“Well it’s a lot of research, you know? Things take a while.”

 

He turned to Rono.

 

“You called us here this morning saying you had some information on an Orb.”

 

“Correct,” said Rono, without looking up.

 

“Well?”

 

Rono held up a 20-denari banknote to his window.

 

“I will not say anything until Techniker arrives.”

 

Seruto and June glanced at each other.

 

“Rono...” began June.

 

“See,” said Seruto. “The thing about Techniker is-”

 

There was a knock on the door.

 

“And here she is now,” said Rono. “You will learn about the next Orb in just a few minutes.”

 

Rono pressed a button on his desk. June and Seruto heard the front door downstairs open, and then footsteps coming up the metal staircase.

 

“But I thought she was- you know-- unavailable?” said June. Seruto shrugged his shoulders.

 

The door to Rono’s office opened. In walked a man with a round face and leather jacket.

 

Kuku, Seruto, June.”

 

“Nobo!” said Seruto, reaching in to shake his hand.

 

Rono however, looked furious.

 

“And where is Techniker?”

 

“She’s not coming, Rono,” said June. “She told us so at the wedding. You know, the one that happened two months ago, whose invitation you so graciously declined.”

 

Seruto stifled a chuckle.

 

“What do you mean?” said Rono.

 

“She said she had some family issues to take care of,” said Seruto. “Remember what happened to her brother back in Hinga City?”

 

Nobo looked down at his feet. Rono suddenly got up from his chair and walked up to his window.

 

“Her brother is a horrible, misguided, and ugly man.”

 

June raised an eyebrow. Seruto looked at him like he should be committed to a mental health institute.

 

“He lost an arm, for Deo’s sake.”

 

“Even so, she would rather help that brother of hers and send this... man... than go with us?”

 

“I do have a name, you know,” said Nobo. Rono ignored him.

 

“I will try to call her again.”

 

Seruto shook his head.

 

“Don’t bother Rono. She won’t answer.”

 

Rono picked up his cell phone and dialed Techniker’s number.


 

D’Upsekreta KHK tum sapites hatepin gebit henimi Hatep mekrek. Menbeha, reki on Medaros enta daBip en henim keminti etultin dan tum.

 

The KHK Subscriber you are trying to reach has their phone switched off. Please leave a message after the beep and they will get back to you.


 

“Told you,” said Seruto. Rono frowned.

 

“Now that that’s out of the way, can you please tell us where the next Orb is?” said June, crossing her arms. “We’ve been sitting here since morning, and it takes a while to drive out here from Hinga City.”

 

“Oh you both are living there now?” said Nobo.

 

“Yes. A cute little apartment in Dol Hudas.”

 

Rono sat back down on his chair and picked up the 20-denari note. He looked at it for a minute before flashing the reverse side to the others.

 

“Here.”

 

The other three moved closer. Seruto widened his eyes.

 

“Bondun Monastery?” said Seruto, taking the yellow banknote and examining it. “That’s near Miniville, on the summit of Mt. Hesuro.”

 

On this side of the note was a picture of the Tower of Bondun, guarded by a large statue of an eagle.

 

“Correct,” said Rono.

 

“But are you absolutely sure?” said Seruto. “We don’t want to suddenly show up there and demand a relic that they may or may not even have.”

 

“I am sure. This time we will get it ourselves, and make sure no meddling spy-kids run off with it.”

 

June smirked at Seruto, who stifled another chuckle. Surely the Red Orb, wherever it may be right now, is safer in the hands of those kids rather than this strange man.

 

“Speaking of which,” said Seruto. “Where is the Black Orb?”

 

“It’s safe in my house in Metriga,” said Rono, quickly getting up. “You don’t need to worry about it.”

 

He grabbed his jacket and headed to the door of his office.

 

“Let’s go.”

 

June, Seruto, and Nobo all looked at each other.

 

“Now?” said June.

 

“Yes.”

 

Rono walked out. Seruto stared at the door for a few seconds, then shook his head.

 

“Let’s make a move, I guess.”

 

They all followed Rono out of the cottage and down to the ledge where the cars were parked.  As Seruto watched Rono refuse to let Nobo enter his car, he tried to think of a way to make sure that he, and not Rono, ended up with this next Orb.



 

National Motorway 1, outside Miniville

 

Fifteen-year-old Hibo Bedia sat in the back of a cab as it cruised down the motorway. His leg started shaking restlessly as they took the exit onto Mt. Hesuro Access Road.

 

“How much longer?” said Hibo.

 

“Eh?” yelled the driver, over the loud Makkalli music blaring out of the cab radio.

 

“Never mind,” said Hibo, rolling his eyes. He looked out the window and spotted a large construction project. According to the sign next to it, it was going to be a school called “Caterpillar Academy”, and it was being built by the Duketa Group.

 

Hibo neither knew nor cared who they were. The cab turned again, beginning its ascent up Mt. Hesuro.

 

The mountainside was covered in woodland, and all the trees were awash in a medley of reds, oranges, and browns. It was extremely obvious that autumn was here, though Hibo wasn’t paying any attention as the lack of leg space in the cab was making him very uncomfortable.

 

The cab finally turned onto an embarkation area, at the bottom of an ancient-looking staircase going further up the mountain. This was the end of the road, and the cab could not go any further. Hibo would have to continue by foot.

 

“56 denari”, said the driver, turning to Hibo. He paid the driver in cash and watched the cab head back down the mountain.

 

At this altitude it was rather chilly, but Hibo didn’t mind. He always wore shorts, regardless of what the weather was. He did, however, zip up his tracksuit top.

 

He turned around to look at the staircase, which was flanked by a pair of small eagle statues. If the information he read on the internet was correct, then the monastery at the top of these stairs was supposed to be one of the most peaceful places on the planet.

 

And any place that’s this peaceful must be hiding something.

 

Hibo rubbed his hands together and smirked. Once he finds out what they’re hiding, he will get to be on TV like those teenagers from three years ago.

 

All of his dreams will come true.

 

Hibo took a deep breath, and started climbing the stairs.