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128 Where Are You?

 "We found an area of what we think was their hideout. I say 'was' because it looked like was deserted now. As if it had been raided a while ago," Blong explained. "Based on the rumors, this area here was occupied by them, so people often tried to avoid going through the area. Only the locals knew about them and where their territory was. We found a bunch of corpses that seemed like they had been dead for a few weeks based on their decomposition."

Mua Kong and his bodyguard continued their journey north, this time travelling together. During this time Blong filled the prince in on their group's findings.

Blong took Mua Kong to meet up with the rest of the group. They took Mua Kong within the areas where they had searched for Hli Ja. Blong's information proved correct: they found the hideout but there were no live bodies for them to get information from.

So, Yee Len and a few elite guards infiltrated the northern country to find information.

Again, Mua Kong felt devastated. He was always missing when Hli Ja needed him the most. He was angry with himself, to be more correct, he loathed himself. If there was anyone he should be angry, and mad at, it would be him. His incompetency, the inability to keep her safe. He had failed her so many times... did he even have the right to ask for her to come back?

Again, Mua Kong's soul was overcome with despair. He had searched for a month. Another month of searching, another month without results.

Yee Len reluctantly persuaded Mua Kong to go back to the palace to check up on his son. He returned to the palace, unwillingly leaving three elite bodyguards behind to continue their search for Hli Ja in the north.

Pao Hua understood that Mua Kong wasn't going to find Hli Ja so easily. Pao Hua's heart broke at the thought of his sister not being found, but his spirit wasn't convinced. He knew her, and he knew she would find them.

As much as he wanted to go find her himself, Pao Hua had to look after his nephew; whom he promised his sister he would take good care of.

As Mua Kong gazed off emptily into the distance while watching his son play, Pao Hua approached him. He gave a neatly folded piece of paper to Mua Kong.

"Hue Houa drew this for his mother. He wanted to give this to her. I'll give this to you. When you find her, please give it to her?" he asked.

Mua Kong's eyes became a little livelier as he examined the nicely folded paper. He hesitantly took the paper. Nervous, he unfolded it and looked at it. It was just a child's scribblings. But the scribbles formed a family;  a father, mother, and child. The message was clear as day...

Mua Kong's heart melted at his son's drawing. He folded the paper and tucked it away.

"Mm... I will give to her without fail," he promised.

The faith Pao Hua gave him, Little Superglue's hopes scribbled on the paper give him some courage. He was more determined than ever to bring her back.

Mua Kong ordered another base to be built along the northern border, so he could have an easier time travelling back and forth. He wasn't sure who took down those bandits nor the whereabouts of Hli Ja, but there was one thing he was sure of: she's alive, somewhere. That was more than enough to motivate him.

Mua Kong had become disheartened and desperate. His fruitless search of Hli Ja kept him so busy that he forgot about his plan to make Pa Chee confess to her crimes. Pushing the problem to the back of his mind, he decided that sooner or later, he'll have to deal with her.

Another year went by, Mua Kong continued to travel between the military bases. His group had slowly started to conquer one third of the Southern Kingdom's lands.

The Northern Kingdom also felt threatened by Mua Kong's growing military power. So threatened by the power he displayed, that they had started preparing bases along the border in case they were to be invaded.

One late evening, Mua Kong was inside his tent at one of his military bases at the northern border. As he was looking at the war map, examining possible stratagems, someone knocked on the door. Mua Kong looked up and answered, "Come in."

A man in armor walked in and bowed before him, "Prince, one of our spies we sent to find information on Her Highness in the Northern Country has been captured."

"Useless!"Mua Kong shouted.

The man lowered his bow, trembling.

"My apologies Milord! We deserve punishment!"

The man Mua Kong had sent to infiltrate was one of his experts. Whomever captured him, must be a formidable enemy.

"My Prince, they also requested an audience. Tomorrow afternoon," the man added.

Mua Kong signaled for the man to leave.

The current King of the Northern Kingdom must not be taken lightly. Cultivating intelligent men, and having those same men be loyal in their work for you... One must be worthy to be served and highly respected by others.

So, to have a spy be noticed by one of the Northern Kingdom's men, the King must be extremely intelligent and talented. This wasn't completely unexpected; the man was once a prince, who overthrew his uncle and became King. His country has since flourished, as well as the rumors of his kindness, which was known throughout the land. He gained favor in the hearts of the people in just the first few years since taking the throne.

Prince Mua Kong touched the areas between his brows and sighed. He worried about Hli Ja. What if he could never find her? How is he going to face his son and Pao Hua? He already wasted one whole year with no leads, and now his spy has been captured. Another setback...

It'll be even harder now to infiltrate the Northern Country. The Northern King and his men have been alerted by his movement. They'll be sure to strengthen their security.

He walked out of his tent, searching for a secluded area to sit. As he stared into the distance, he muttered unconsciously.