99 Sphere of Influence Pt.3

    Soft light filtered through the cracks of the tattered curtains stirring a drowsy Brahms awake. He groaned, his iridescently fringed eyes fluttering open to reveal his striking green irises.

    "Where am I?" he croaked. His throat was as dry as sandpaper. "Vernon?" he called out as his vision adjusted to the dim room. "Amadeus? Archie?"

    "Ah, you are awake."

    Brahms followed the stranger's voice and his eyes met a weary-looking Namjoon. He recoiled backwards on the bed, suddenly on guard at the sudden appearance of an unfamiliar man. In a blink of an eye, Brahms noticed that the man before him walked gallantly despite his humble attire. Currently, Namjoon was wearing plain, beige robes that were vacant of any illustrious embroidery.

    Namjoon cautiously approached him, a saucer of water in his hands. "You must be thirsty," he said as he offered the saucer to Brahms.

    "Get away from me!" Brahms shouted as he slapped the saucer away with the back of his hand.

    Namjoon was taken aback.

    "Where are my companions?" he asked angrily. "What have you done with them?"

    Namjoon gaped at the red-haired foreigner confusedly. "I cannot understand you," he said as he picked up the emptied saucer. "I do not speak your tongue. But you need to drink water. You have lost a lot of fluids while you were indisposed."

    "Where are they?" Brahms' voice was hoarse. He darted his eyes to all corners of the room as if searching for a sign as to where he was. "I swear on the King's name that you will pay with your life if harm befell them, you savage-"


    The pair turned around and a mutual sense of relief washed over them.

    "Vernon..." Brahms managed to utter, his eyes blinking in disbelief at the sight of his companion unharmed. "You are alive."

    The fair-haired gentleman swiftly walked over to his bedridden friend. "It is I who should be saying that" he responded with an equally relieved smile. "My friend, how are you feeling?"

    Brahms opened his mouth to respond but upon noticing Namjoon loitering behind, he hesitated.

    Vernon was quick to notice. "Will you please excuse us, Sir Namjoon?" he spoke in Saimese. "I would like to speak with Brahms in private."

    Namjoon gave a slight nod. "As you wish" he replied, before departing.

    Once the door had shut, Brahms spoke, "Where are we?" His voice was still low as if he was paranoid that Namjoon would overhear.

    "We are at a local hospital" Vernon answered as he perched himself at the end of Brahms' bed. "We are finally at the capital."

    Brahms' sharp features softened at those words. "I see..."

    "But how are you feeling?" Vernon enquired. "You had all of us worried. You were in and out of consciousness for the past two weeks."

    As if by Vernon mentioning it, Brahms suddenly felt queasy. "I feel... terrible" he admitted as he massaged his temple. "I cannot remember much of what happened before-" Suddenly, Brahms' body tensed up as he recalled the neighing of distressed horses; the clashing of long swords and the piercing sound of gunshots. He clutched the edge of the bed as he heaved into a vacant wooden bucket next to him.

    Vernon looked on alarmingly. "Brahms?" He quickly got up as he searched for the jug of clean water that Namjoon had been giving to his friend. "Here," he offered the whole jug to him, "this should help you feel better."

    Brahms groggily looked up and with both hands, he seized the jug from Vernon and drank hungrily. Trails of water escaped the sides of his mouth as it dribbled down his chin. Once it was empty, he wiped the residue away with the back of his hand.


    Brahms nodded. "Better."

    "You need to rest it out. Do not push yourself. Archie and I will deal with the emperor-"

    "Have you already seen him?" Brahms interrupted.

    "Not yet. But they have sent a royal envoy to relay the message on when and where the meeting will take place."

    "Be vigilant" Brahms muttered in a sombre tone. "We do not know if we can trust them yet." He tightened his grip on the blanket draped on top of him. "Especially not after we were ambushed."

    Vernon returned his solemn gaze.

    "We should tell King Hiram about this. Our lives may be in danger here-"

    "The king will not show us empathy. He made it clear that we must succeed in this mission no matter what."

    "But we could have died-!"

    "And he would have sent other diplomats to replace us" Vernon cut in. "We cannot show weakness, Brahms. The king expects us to succeed and succeed we shall."

    Brahms ran his pale hand through his copper-shaded hair. "This is a suicide mission, Vernon, and you know it. Only a few weeks in and we have already encountered hostile parties."

    "We have little choice. We need to do this for New Britannia." He eyed his friend who exhibited a ghastly expression and sighed. "But enough talk about that. For now, we should focus on your recovery. When the envoy came, he also mentioned that the emperor has extended the use of his royal infirmary should you wish to be moved there."

    Brahms scowled. "I rather stay here. Who knows what they might do to me."

    "Very well," Vernon answered. "I shall inform Amadeus and Archie of your decision." He got up to leave. "We are currently housed at a nearby tavern. I believe Amadeus will be the one to check up on you later."

    But before Vernon could take a step, Brahms abruptly queried, "Are you okay?"

    The fair-haired man looked back at his friend. "Why do you ask?"

    "Because..." Brahms' voice trailed off as he hesitated to explain.

    Vernon tossed him a weak smile. "I am fine, Brahms. I hardly think about it anymore."

    But Brahms remained doubtful.

    "I cannot change what happened in the past" Vernon stated in a bid to convince his friend. "But the future still remains unwritten." He eyed him determinedly. "New Britannia is my home now." He turned his back as he proceeded towards the exit. "And Saim will only become my home again once it has fallen under New Britannia's sphere of influence."
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