Chapter 33 can be read below the cut.
Haruyéng and Hirúka walked through the streets of the Heavenly Capital. Even though they were imperceptible, Hirúka looked around nervously as if he was expecting someone to notice him. He occasionally bumped into a person, but those people only momentarily looked annoyed before going about their business, Hirúka seemingly forgotten.
Haruyéng glanced back at Hirúka when it happened again. “Tiger, stop bumping into people. I’m pretty sure it won’t make that spell wear off, but but I’d rather not take any chances,” he said
Annoyed, Hirúka shot a glare at Haruyéng. “My name is Hirúka, not ‘Tiger’,” he said.
Haruyéng waved it off. “Whatever. Just…absolutely do not bump into anyone at the Palace, or any soldiers or guards. I’m sure they’ll immediately notice that something is weird and break the spell.”
“It’s not like I’m trying to bump into people! It just happens!” Hirúka protested.
Haruyéng scoffed and rolled his eyes. “I’m sure you’re telling the truth,” he said.
They reached the gates of the Heavenly Palace in just a few minutes. Haruyéng went around to the military entrance, pushed aside the gate, and walked in as he usually did. Hirúka looked around nervously, tapping his fingers together.
“Is it really okay for us to just walk in like this?” said Hirúka.
Haruyéng let out a loud sigh. “I do this all the time. Even if someone noticed me, they wouldn’t think it was weird,” he said.
Without waiting for Hirúka to answer, Haruyéng walked into the courtyard. Hirúka ran forward to join him. “Can we really get to the Imperial Library through the military entrance?” Hirúka asked.
Haruyéng looked offended. “Of course! It takes a little while and we have to go through a bunch of halls, but we’ll get there. I know what I’m doing, Hirúka.”
Haruyéng led Hirúka into the building and through halls and corridors, weaving through them seemingly at random. There weren’t many people around. “Is it always this empty? Shouldn’t there be lots more people around here?” Hirúka asked.
Haruyéng looked around. “Normally, that would be the case. But today’s an odd day, which is why we’re doing this today and not some other day,” he said.
They turned the corner. This hall led to the library; it was much wider than the others and there was an open door at the end of it. A room full of bookshelves was visible past the door.
“Do you normally leave the door open like that?” said Hirúka. “Anyone could walk in.”
“It’s not like I’m the one who made that decision,” said Haruyéng, annoyed. As he talked, Hirúka started walking down the hall toward the library. Haruyéng reached out toward him, his annoyance growing. “Hey! Don’t just walk off like that!”
Hirúka seemed to have lost all of his nervousness and fear. He walked into the library and looked around. The shelves were labeled, but there were a lot of them. “So where’s the restricted section?” he asked.
Haruyéng pointed toward the back of the library. “It’s over in that area. Follow me, and don’t run off on your own out of my sight,” he said.
The restricted section was separated from the rest of the library with a rope. Hirúka stared at it. “That’s it?” he said. “A rope?”
Haruyéng laughed, which came out a bit too loud for his own comfort. He looked around to see if anyone heard him, even though it wasn’t likely. “Yeah, that’s it. It doesn’t have any spells on it to prevent anyone from getting in, either,” he said.
Hirúka stepped over the rope and into the restricted section. According to Qursin, Yrrum Innué was in the spells section. He didn’t know if the title was on the cover. Considering how old the book was, it probably wasn’t.
He walked around to look at any shelves labeled “Spells”. There were ten of them in total, all clustered in the same area. When Hirúka got back to the front of the restricted section, he saw Haruyéng standing there with his hands on his hips, looking bored.
Haruyéng raised an eyebrow. “What’s the matter now? You’re back to looking panicked,” he said.
“Well, I don’t think the book is actually labeled,” said Hirúka. “I know it’s in the Spells section, but there are ten whole shelves.”
Haruyéng frowned. “Didn’t your uncle tell you where this book was?” he asked.
“He told me it was with the other spell books,” said Hirúka. “That’s it.”
Haruyéng sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. “This is going to take a while. Start going through all the books, one by one,” he said.
It would take Lisel and Kiyaska at least twenty more minutes to get to the Palace and the military headquarters. Lisel still wasn’t used to walking so quickly with a long skirt, and was sure it as slowing her down. She kept fidgeting with it.
“Are we going to blow something up?” Kiyaska asked. Lisel thought she sounded almost hopeful.
“Why would you assume that?” asked Lisel.
“Because we’re here,” said Kiyaska. “And you said you wanted to ruin things.”
“Good assumption. I made a couple of detonation spells earlier,” said Lisel. “There are a few places I want to hit.”
Kiyaska frowned. “Why only a few certain places?” she asked.
“I didn’t make that many spells,” said Lisel. “And I’m pretty sure that setting off one will remove our invisibility spell. I don’t want to do that.”
The two of them reached the main military compound. There was a field off to the side with some young soldiers playing cuju, and absolutely no guards in sight. Kiyaska watched the players quizzically. “I’ve seen people play that game before. What’s it called?” she asked.
Lisel gave her an incredulous look. “Kiyaska, now isn’t the time to be asking that sort of question,” she said.
Kiyaska faked a pout. “It’s called cuju,” Lisel continued. “Let’s go to the barracks first.”
Fortunately, the armory in the barracks was messy enough that Lisel was easily able to hide the explosive materials and spell. She stood back, hands on her hips, looking at her work.
“Is there just one armory?” Kiyaska asked. She sounded legitimately confused.
Lisel shook her head. “There’s only one for these barracks, but there are other armories for the Division Commanders and the Palace Guards. Those ones are actually in the Heavenly Palace. Let’s go there.”
“Lisel,” Kiyaska asked as they walked away. “Is that bomb going to go off on its own?”
“Yes,” said Lisel. “Kiyaska looked alarmed, so Lisel continued. “It’s on a timer. They’re all going to go off at the same time. If they didn’t, everyone would go to their own armories immediately.”
She turned to look at Kiyaska, and something exploded. Both of them froze. There was shouting and screaming, and further back, people running away from something. Most of the people near the two of them merely looked confused.
“What’s going on-” Kiyaska started. Lisel grabbed her arm and started pulling her along the road toward the Palace.
“Let’s get inside as quickly as we can,” said Lisel.
Kiyaska yanked her arm out of Lisel’s grip. “Why did it explode? You said it was on a timer!”
“It was supposed to be on a timer. I guess something went wrong,” said Lisel.
Kiyaska scowled. “Can you tell me what we’re going to do now?” she asked.
Lisel pulled more spells out of her pockets. “We get into the Palace and destroy some of their more critical things. Maybe not their armories, but there is a lot of other information lying around that I would like to get rid of.”
Kiyaska didn’t look convinced, but followed Lisel anyway. They entered the Palace through the military entrance. The few soldiers there probably hadn’t heard or seen the explosion; they were calmly talking to each other. Thankfully, none of them noticed Lisel or Kiyaska.
Lisel walked through the halls until she got to an office. The name on the door was HEAVENLY COMMANDER KATSURU HUNYOUNG, which confused Kiyaska. “Heavenly Commander?” she said. “What is that? Who is this guy?”
Lisel kept her gaze fixed on the sign. “Katsuru Hunyoung is the highest-ranked person in the entire Imperial Military. He’s the one that all the Division Commanders answer to.” She let out a sigh. “He’s also second-in-command of the country after the Heavenly Emperors. If they all end up dying, he becomes Heavenly Emperor.”
She reached out for the door handle. “Are you sure he’s not inside?” Kiyaska asked.
“I can hear inside,” said Lisel. “There’s no one in there. And if we can trust the schedule Haruyéng gave us, then he won’t be back for a while.”
She opened the door, ushered Kiyaska in quickly, and shut it behind her. The office was smaller than most and sparsely decorated. Shelves lined the walls, all of them filled with various books. Some of them were written in Meitsung soré, and some were written in the languages of nearby countries. Papers, folders, and books were stacked up on the desk.
“Lots of books in here,” Kiyaska commented. Her gaze wandered over to the bookshelf. “Huh? That one’s in Zarya Heul. Why is it here?”
Lisel looked around the desk. “Who knows? Take it if you want. Take anything that you want.”
Kiyaska pulled the book off the shelf and put it into her pack. “So many of these books are in weird languages. Are they from other countries?” she asked.
Lisel continued rummaging through the desk and didn’t look up at Kiyaska. “I’m assuming some of them are,” she said.
Kiyaska blinked. “Are the others in dead languages? Like the languages Nüwa knows?” she asked.
Lisel straightened up and scratched her head, then finally looked up at Kiyaska. “They may be. I wouldn’t be able to recognize any of them, but Sirilrhis might. Some of those books might have been his. Take as many of them as you can. Use my pack as well if you need to.”
Lisel moved a stack of papers to the side. It tipped over and started spilling onto the floor. She looked down at it, thought about picking them up, then decided against it. There was no need to clean things up if she was going to blow up the room. Then she looked back at the desk and gasped.
“What did you find?” Kiyaska asked.
Lisel held up a stack of papers that were pinned together. “This is what I was looking for,” she said.
“What is it?” Kiyaska asked.
Lisel carefully wrapped the stack of papers in a cloth and put it into her pack. “Important military documents. Future plans, budgets, who’s going to be promoted – that sort of thing. It’s boring to most people, but it’s information like this that keeps things running smoothly,” said Lisel. “That’s all I actually wanted from this office.”
Kiyaska looked around. “But there’s so much stuff here! What if some of it is actually super important and you don’t take it?”
Lisel frowned. “You make a good point. Take as many of the books that aren’t written in Meitsung soré as you can.”
She went through the papers and folders on Commander Hunyoung’s desk one more time. A few more of them went into her pack, as well as some of the books Kiyaska handed her. Once that was done, she straightened up and looked down at the desk.
“I think that’s everything. Anything else would be superfluous,” said Lisel. She looked at Kiyaska, who held a few books in her arms. “Do you not have any more room for those?”
Kiyaska shook her head. “No, I ran out.”
“Give them to me,” said Lisel. “I’ll set the spell right afterward.”
The spell and explosives wouldn’t be noticed before they went off. Hunyoung wouldn’t be here for another hour at the very least. “Let’s go to the Library,” said Lisel. “I think everyone else should be done with their work now.”
She pushed the door open and walked right into someone.