Chapter 34 can be read below the cut.
“I wish we had asked Lisel where this man’s office is,” said Nüwa. Both she and Sirilrhis were in the halls of the military building, and they were lost.
Sirilrhis dug his fingernails into his palms. “We’ll find it soon. The name has to be on the door,” he said.
Nüwa suddenly ducked into a side hall and pulled Sirilrhis’s sleeve so that he came with her. A man walked past them, looking down at some papers in his hands. She turned to Sirilrhis, eyes wide in horror. “Did you notice that?” she hissed under her breath.
“Notice what?” Sirilrhis asked.
“He is an Immortal,” said Nüwa.
There was an “oof” sound from down the hall, then a yell and the sound of something hitting the ground. Kiyaska ran past the side hall. Nüwa grabbed her sleeve and pulled her in before she could get too far away, knocking her into Sirilrhis.
“Why are you here?” Kiyaska asked, looking confused.
“I would like to ask you the same question,” said Nüwa.
There was another yell, this time from Lisel, followed by the sound of heavy footsteps as Lisel started chasing the man down the hall away from them. She had her dao in her hand.
“Is there a particular reason she seems so angry?” Nüwa asked.
Kiyaska scratched her nose. “I think he might be her father,” she said.
Nüwa and Sirilrhis both looked surprised. “Are you serious?” said Sirilrhis. “Where did you get that idea?”
“They both said something about it when she bumped into him,” said Kiyaska. “And we were in his office! He’s got a lot of old books in dead languages and stuff, and I took a lot of them!”
“Do you know this man’s name?” Nüwa asked. “He’s an Immortal.”
“Hunyoung,” said Kiyaska. “That’s the Heavenly Commander, right? Anyway, did you kill that guy yet?”
Nüwa and Sirilrhis exchanged a worried glance, then Nüwa shook her head. “We do not know where his office is. We were going to ask Lisel, but she ran after that man,” she said. She looked closer at Kiyaska and frowned. “Oh dear. You’ve lost the spell. Stay here-”
Nüwa was cut off by shouting and the sound of running footsteps. This time, it sounded like multiple people. Nüwa gritted her teeth. “I think we have all lost our spells,” she said. “It’s time to be more careful.”
“No way! I came here to kill Imperials and that’s what I’m going to do!” said Kiyaska. She charged back out into the hall and started running toward the people.
Shocked, Nüwa reached out her hand toward Kiyaska. “Don’t do that! Siril-”
Without a word to her, Sirilrhis drew his jian and ran into the hall. “You as well!?” exclaimed Nüwa.
Sirilrhis saw Kiyaska ahead of him. She’d already shot one of the soldiers in the face – he was lying on the ground, dead. In all of the shouting, Sirilrhis heard a vaguely familiar voice. It took a few moments to realize that it was the voice of General Mérrun.
“-figure out what the hell is going on, please? Is this one person or multiple Rebels-”
General Mérrun walked into Sirilrhis’s field of view. Sirilrhis immediately dropped his sword and changed to his dragon form. Before the General or any of the other soldiers could react, Sirilrhis grabbed him and slammed him into the wall. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Kiyaska and Nüwa, who was carrying a lot of books in her arms.
And then something exploded.
Lisel chased Commander Hunyoung down the hall. He slammed into a door and fiddled with the handle before throwing it open and running into a courtyard. He managed to get a good distance away from Lisel before grabbing his knife and shifting into a defensive stance.
Lisel walked into the courtyard, dao in her hand. Hunyoung narrowed his eyes. “Are you not going to say anything else?” he asked. He straightened up and dropped his arms to his sides. “There’s no way to get anyone to forgive you for what you’ve done, you know. Your mother especially won’t. Do you think I haven’t spoken to her in the past two years? Of course I questioned her and your half-siblings about any signs you showed before you committed treason.”
Lisel sheathed her dao. Hunyoung smiled. “I think you’ll be pleased to know that they had absolutely no idea what you were planning! Nothing at all. I couldn’t get anything out of them.”
She knew he was trying to distract her. She took her rifle into one hand and reached into the ammo pouch. Hunyoung watched her aim the rifle at him. “Still not going to say anything?” he said
Lisel lined up the sights. “I don’t have any words for you,” she said.
Hunyoung crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow. “Well, I have a few words to say to you, so you’d better listen.” He sighed, and started muttering something under his breath.
It took Lisel a moment to realize what was going on. “When did you become an-” she started.
She fell to the ground, gritting her teeth and curling up with her hands over her ears. Her rifle landed next to her. It seems like all the spell did was cause her pain, but it was enough pain that she couldn’t move a finger.
His footsteps got closer, and she still couldn’t move. Commander Hunyoung picked up Lisel’s dao and sighed. “It’s unfortunate that I have to kill you,” he said. “You had a lot of potential. Loads more than Tsiyung Haruyéng. I suppose you know how mediocre he is, since he was a soldier under your command. But you! You were great, and you chose to become a traitor.”
Hunyoung held the dao over her head. “You’ve executed plenty of traitors, Lisel. You know how this goes,” he said.
An arrow hit Commander Hunyoung in his right shoulder. In shock and surprise, he dropped the dao; it bounced off Lisel’s shoulders. Fortunately, it didn’t do any damage. Lisel grinned and gripped the dao weakly.
“Queen of Air and Darkness, lend me your magic-” She, as well as the dropped dao, vanished. A moment later, Hunyoung stumbled forward and a deep gash appeared on the back of his neck. He covered it with his hand and ran forward toward Lisel’s rifle.
Lisel appeared again, dao in hand. Her hair was messy and she looked incensed. She pointed the dao at Hunyoung. “You’re going to die now,” she hissed.
Hunyoung grinned and picked up Lisel’s rifle. “I saw you load this. There’s no way you’ll be able to reach me before I shoot you,” he said.
Another arrow flew out of nowhere; this time, it hit Hunyoung in the back of the head. He dropped the rifle as he fell forward. The shot wasn’t fatal, and he twitched on the ground. Lisel sheathed her dao, picked up her rifle, and fired once into the back of Commander Hunyoung’s head. The twitching finally stopped.
Lisel looked up to see Kiyaska standing near the doorway. She had her bow in her left hand and another arrow in her right. “Well?” said Lisel. “Are you going to get your arrows?”
Both of them looked down at Hunyoung’s corpse. “I overheard that he’s an Immortal, so wouldn’t it be better to leave it in?” said Kiyaska. “So he doesn’t accidentally revive.”
Lisel laughed, and it came out much harsher than she expected. Kiyaska flinched. “Immortals don’t become jiangshi, Kiyaska,” said Lisel. “He is dead. He is going to be dead from now until the end of time.”
Lisel pulled a spell and a match out of her pocket. She stepped back, lit the match, and dropped both it and the spell on the corpse. “See? He definitely won’t be surviving this if he’s still alive,” she said.
Nüwa suddenly ran through the doorway and crashed into Kiyaska. Kiyaska stumbled forward, but didn’t fall. “Lisel, Kiyaska, there you are! Have you seen-”
She saw the scene behind Kiyaska – Lisel with her rifle still in her hands and the burning corpse of Commander Hunyoung in front of her. “-Haruyéng and Hirúka?” Nüwa finished.
Lisel slung the rifle over her shoulder and straightened up. “Nope. Have you checked the library?” she asked.
Nüwa shook her head. “No. Sirilrhis is headed there now. He killed every Imperial soldier he saw. Kiyaska has been doing the same thing,” she said.
“We need to get going,” said Lisel. “I put a spell on the body. It’s going to explode in a few minutes.”
She barged straight past Kiyaska and Nüwa and headed down the hall to the library. It didn’t take long for them to get there. Lisel peered in and looked back to the other two with a confused expression on her face. “I think they’re the only ones here,” she said.
“Then let’s go in,” said Nüwa.
Haruyéng and Hirúka were barely visible behind one of the bookshelves. There were books stacked haphazardly all around them. Hirúka looked up, confused. “What’s going on? Are we leaving?” he asked.
Lisel frowned. “What are you even doing?”
“It turns out that this book is harder to find than previously thought,” said Haruyéng without looking up.
Lisel sighed and looked down at Nüwa. “Where is Sirilrhis? This was his book. He should be able to find it quickly.”
Nüwa looked back toward the entrance of the library. “I have no idea where he is. But we must hurry. More soldiers will be heading here soon,” she said.
“We’re going to have a difficult time getting out of here,” said Lisel. She turned to face everyone. “I can’t promise that you’ll all leave here unscathed. Or alive.”
Sirilrhis walked in through the entrance of the library. His beizi was torn and the jian in his hand, as well as well as his clothes and face, were stained with blood. He sheathed his sword, then grabbed a loose piece of cloth from his beizi and ripped it off.
“So,” he said flatly as he wiped the blood off his face. “Have you found the book yet?”
“No,” said Hirúka quietly as he stared in shock. “We don’t know what it looks like, so we’ve had to check each book. But it was your book so you know what it looks like, right? You can recognize it right away?”
“I should be able to, yes,” said Sirilrhis.
“Excuse me,” said Nüwa. “What is this book called?”
“Yrrum Innué,” answered Sirilrhis.
“Oh, I know that language! This will be easy to find!” said Nüwa. She raised her hand, an intense look on her face. “I apologize to all of you, but I am about to use magic again. Prepare yourselves.”
Kiyaska and Hirúka knelt down. Sirilrhis, Lisel, and Haruyéng remained standing. Nüwa took a breath. “If the book Yrrum Innué is here, let it fall off the shelf,” she said.
It was a minor spell, so the pain that resulted from it barely stung. A book flew off one of the shelves and bounced off the other before it landed on the ground. Haruyéng, the closest, picked it up. He looked at the cover for a moment before he turned it to face them. The words Yrrum Innué were visible, but faint.
“We can go now, right?” said Haruyéng.
Lisel looked to Sirilrhis. “If there are any other books here you want, you’d better take them now. We aren’t coming back here,” she said.
Sirilrhis looked at the stacks of books and the shelves. He grabbed three of them initially, then a few more. At the same time, Lisel started loading her rifle. They left a minute later, with a lot less books than Sirilrhis would have liked to take with him.
“There do not seem to be any more soldiers in this building,” said Nüwa as they walked down the hall.
“It looks like you did a good job killing everyone,” said Lisel. “But I’m a little afraid of what we’re going to run into when we leave.”
Sirilrhis attempted to wipe some more blood off his face, but all he succeeded in doing was smearing it around. “If you want, I can throw fire at anyone out there,” he said.
“Do that. Just try not to hit any of us,” said Lisel. “Or any civilians. Especially do not kill any civilians. I won’t forgive you for that.”
They stood in front of the door that led to the courtyard at the entrance of the military headquarters. Lisel turned around to face everyone, her back to the door. “Get ready,” she said. “This is going to be messy.”