Chapter 35 can be read below the cut.
Sirilrhis burst through the door. There were multiple soldiers standing around, but they didn’t appear to be organized or have any sort of plan. He threw a fireball at the largest group of soldiers, who immediately started running and yelling.
Lisel ran out of the building, leading the rest of the group. Sirilrhis continued throwing fire at any soldier he saw. Kiyaska managed to shoot one, and Lisel sliced the neck of a soldier that got too close. Hirúka had changed to his tiger form and was trying to keep out of the way.
Nüwa, in her snake form, was curled around Lisel’s neck. “Which way are we going?” she asked.
Lisel looked back at Haruyéng expectantly. “North would be best,” he said. “There are a couple of places where we can sneak into South Kelutshélin.”
Lisel turned back to the group. “Did you all hear that? We’re heading north. Try not to get split up. We don’t have a meeting place and you don’t know the area. If you get lost, you’re on your own.”
Kiyaska wrinkled her nose. “Lisel, we know. We’ll stick close to you.”
“How far is it until we get out of the Heavenly Capital proper?” Hirúka asked.
“About three kilometers,” said Lisel. “Once we’re outside the gate, it’s villages and towns just like when we entered the Capital region.”
They ran through the city, not caring who they came across. Sirilrhis and Lisel ended up ahead of the rest, dealing with any soldiers they saw. There were surprisingly few, and the two of them only ended up killing three.
Lisel and Sirilrhis rounded the corner and ran into three unfamiliar soldiers. They were young and armed with the usual weapons, but looked completely unprepared. Both of them immediately advanced on the soldiers, weapons drawn.
Haruyéng shoved his way in front of them. “No, wait! They’re part of my squad. Don’t hurt them-”
All three of the soldiers recognized Lisel, including the one who was loading his rifle. “That’s Lisel Tsensung,” said the female soldier. She looked past Lisel to Haruyéng, who for some reason managed to look guilty “WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH HER, YOU TRAITOR!?”
“Lu, don’t-” Haruyéng started.
Lu attempted to aim her rifle at Lisel. Onnarré grabbed the barrel and pointed it toward the ground; Lu’s hand slipped and her finger hit the trigger. She looked at Onnarré, incensed. “What the fuck are you-”
Onnarré took off after Lisel’s group, who were already a good twenty meters away. Hayésu looked alarmed, and started running after him. “Onnarré? What are you doing!?” he yelled.
“I think this is the right thing to do at the moment,” said Onnarré.
Hayésu was still skeptical. “But-”
An Imperial soldier shot at them. The bullet missed Onnarré and Hayésu entirely and instead hit Lisel in her right shoulder. The impact startled her, but she still managed to keep holding on to her rifle.
“What was that? What hit me?” she demanded.
“Someone shot you,” said Nüwa.
Lisel tried to look at her shoulder. “What the fuck? That’s not good.”
“Do you need to stop-” Kiyaska started.
“No! We can take care of it once we’re outside the Capital,” said Lisel.
It took until noon to get about five kilometers away from the Heavenly Capital. They stopped in the forest, in a small clearing far away from any roads. Sirilrhis immediately went to a nearby stream to wash the blood off his face and clothes. Hirúka and Haruyéng took the break as an opportunity to sort through all the books that were taken from the Library. Hayésu and Onnarré were nearby, helping when they were told to.
Lisel had half-changed back into her old clothes. Nüwa touched her shoulder gently. “The bullet’s still in there,” she said.
“Are you sure? You don’t see an exit wound?” Lisel asked.
Nüwa pointed to the front of Lisel’s shoulder. “Do you see an exit wound? It would have come out here,” she said.
Lisel attempted to look at her shoulder and winced. “I can’t see anything, so I’ll take your word for it. Treat it as best as you can. I have some medical supplies in my pack. I’m sure Sirilrhis does as well. Ask him when he gets back.”
Kiyaska rummaged around in Lisel’s pack and brought back some bandages. “This is all I found,” she said.
“It’s fine,” said Lisel.
Sirilrhis walked up with a bowl full of water and a couple of clean cloths. Lisel took one with her left hand and clumsily wiped her face with it. “Nüwa, you can start now,” she said.
Nüwa took a cloth from Sirilrhis and dipped it into the water. “Siril, can you bring any relevant medicinal herbs you have?” she asked as she cleaned off Lisel’s shoulder.
It didn’t take long for Nüwa to clean up and bandage Lisel’s shoulder. “Well, it still hurts. Can you do something about that, Nüwa?” asked Lisel. Her voice sounded weird to herself. She must have been more exhausted than she had initially thought.
“No, you’d need something like opium for that,” answered Nüwa.
Sirilrhis eyed Lisel warily. “I don’t think pain is going to be the problem. Preventing infection is more important,” he said.
Nüwa looked skeptical. “Are you questioning my ability? I am not unfamiliar with medicine,” she said.
Sirilrhis held his hands up, palms facing Nüwa. “”I don’t want to fight about this. I just don’t want anything to get worse,” he said.
Kiyaska looked toward Hirúka. He and the others were sitting behind all of the books they’d lined up on the ground. “I think we should talk to Haruyéng now,” she said.
Nüwa put her hands on her hips. “Yes. We need to figure out what to do next,” she said.
Haruyéng looked up at at Nüwa as she walked over to him. “Is Tsensung alright?” he asked.
“She will be fine,” Nüwa asked. “We should be able to return to Resuni without problem.”
Haruyéng raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure about that? The whole military has to be mobilized by now. I’m pretty sure everyone knows I’m gone, too. Plenty of people saw me. And they’re gonna be looking for Tsensung, so this won’t be easy.”
“That is definitely true. You all have experienced enough magic that I think it would be dangerous to put you through more spells,” said Nüwa. She looked up at Sirilrhis, who stood there with his arms crossed. “Unless, of course, you want to fly us to Resuni. That would save a lot of time and hassle.”
Sirilrhis looked baffled. “I can’t even carry four of you,” he said.
“So why did you offer to do that in the beginning?” Lisel asked.
“I would have only taken you,” said Sirilrhis. “You’re the only one who needed to be here.”
“This isn’t important,” said Nüwa. “We need a plan to get back to Resuni. What routes will we take? I assume that you want to keep off the main road until we return to East Meitsung.”
Haruyéng nodded. “That’s the best thing to do. Now, I didn’t have time to grab a map when I was leaving, so if you’ve got one lying around, I’d like to look at it.”
A couple of minutes later, Haruyéng had the map open in his lap. Hayésu and Onnarré watched him closely. They hadn’t said a single word the whole time they’d been here, other than asking Haruyéng what to do.
“Well, we should probably get out of the Capital Region as soon as possible,” said Haruyéng. “And the quickest way out is to the northeast. We’ll be in South Kelutshélin. Does anyone have any objections to that?”
There was silence. “I’ll take that as a no,” Haruyéng continued. “So! South Kelutshélin. It looks like it’ll be quickest to go northeast in a straight line, but I’m not sure how feasible that is.”
“Keep us off the main road as much as possible,” said Lisel.
Haruyéng looked back down at the map. “We’ll have to avoid Tengni, but we’ll probably be able to keep to the same path,” he said.
Lisel shook her head. “That seems fine, but I want to stay away from towns in general. I think we’ll have to camp a lot.”
Haruyéng groaned, his shoulders slumping. “I really don’t like the sound of that, but I guess I’ll do it if we really have to,” he said. He looked over at Hayésu and Onnarré. “I hope you two are prepared for that.”
Hayésu and Onnarré exchanged a glance. “I don’t think we have much of a choice,” said Hayésu. “If we try to go back, we’ll be branded as traitors and probably executed.”
“Definitely executed,” Lisel corrected.
Haruyéng gave her a worried look before turning his attention back to his soldiers. “So where is Lu? And why are the two of you here, anyway?” he asked.
“Lu called us traitors and tried to shoot us,” said Onnarré. “I think she’s the one who shot Tsensung.”
Haruyéng looked mortified. Lisel grinned in surprise and turned to Haruyéng. “Wow! One of your soldiers did this? I’m impressed!” she exclaimed.
“Tsensung, this isn’t something you should be happy about!” Haruyéng protested.
“I’m just surprised that you were able to train a soldier that well,” said Lisel. “It wasn’t something I ever expected you to be capable of.”
Haruyéng looked indignant. “Even you – fuck! I’ve been worrying for the longest time that I’ll never be able to live up to your legacy and then everyone just comes out and says they’re thinking the same thing!” he said.
Lisel laughed, then winced and touched her shoulder. “Hah! Oh – ow. I’m sorry to hear that. But it doesn’t matter now, so you can stop thinking about it. You’ll actually be useful in the Rebel military.”
Haruyéng looked grumpy. Lisel used his following silence as an opportunity to change the subject. “Anyone have any objections to the route we’re taking? We’re going northeast across South Kelutshélin until we reach Hengshal,” she said.
Everyone was silent. Lisel smiled, then claps her hands together and winced in pain again. “Looks like we have a plan! Who wants to start walking?” she asked.
“But we just ran here,” Hirúka protested. “And you’re injured! Don’t we need to rest a bit more?”
Lisel started to say something, but Sirilrhis interrupted. “Normally I’d agree with you, Hirúka, but the Imperial soldiers are looking everywhere for us. At the very least, we need to get out of the Capital Region as quickly as possible.”
Kiyaska looked toward Onnarré and Hayésu. “So…who are you two?” She continued talking before either of them could respond. “And can we actually trust you? I mean, I don’t think anyone other than Haruyéng knows who you are. He might trust you, but I don’t.”
Lisel was surprised to hear something like that come out of Kiyaska’s mouth. Judging by the look on his face, so was Sirilrhis. Onnarré and Hayésu glanced at each other. “I’d like to know who the rest of you are as well,” said Onnarré.
“Start with yourself,” retorted Kiyaska.
Hayésu looked surprised at her brusqueness. “I’m Koruyin Hayésu. I’m…I was an Imperial soldier in the firearms division. Now I guess I’m a traitor,” he siad.
He elbowed Onnarré in the side. “Perrin Onnarré, same,” said Onnarré flatly.
Hayésu looked at Onnarré, seemingly waiting for him to say anything else. What that didn’t happen, he looked back at Kiyaska. “And you are?” he asked.
“Nin Tulka Sil Kiyaska. I’m not a Rebel. I just came here to kill Imperials,” said Kiyaska. She pointed at Hirúka. “Your turn!”
Hirúka looked uncomfortable. “Muhánquri Hirúka. I’m here because…I don’t know, really. I think I made a mistake coming with you, Lisel,” he said.
Lisel reached over and lightly tapped his shoulder. “Hirúka, now is not the time to have a breakdown. You can do that later. One we get back to Resuni, you can go back to your village or do whatever it is you want to do.”
Hirúka still looked uncomfortable. “Sure,” he said halfheartedly.
“Siril! Tell them who you are,” said Kiyaska.
Sirilrhis looked mildly disgusted. “My name is Sirilrhis and I am a dragon, not a Rebel. Once we get back to Resuni, you won’t see much of me.”
“Really?” said Lisel. “You haven’t been swayed to our cause yet?”
Sirilrhis rolled his eyes. “I’m much too old to care about things like that,” he said.
Nüwa cleared her throat, then put her hand to her chest and smiled. “My name is Nüwa. I’m an Immortal, so I’m much older than this dragon over here. I would like to keep this information as much of a secret as possible, so please don’t tell anyone, Perin and Koruyin.”
“I don’t even know who I would tell,” said Hayésu.
“We’re counting on you two being actual Rebels and not Imperial spies,” said Lisel.
“I don’t see how we’re going to get a chance to talk to many Imperial soldiers when we’ll be around you constantly,” said Hayésu.
“You could always get kidnapped,” Haruyéng suggested.
“If that happens, don’t confess to anything, even if they threaten to torture you,” Lisel cut in. “Kill yourself if it gets too bad.”
Neither Onnarré nor Hayésu looked too happy to hear that. “What? No,” said Onnarré.
“I don’t want to do that, either,” said Hayésu.
Lisel looked unimpressed. “Feh! I take back all the good things I said about you, Haruyéng. I’m not pleased with your leadership at all.”
Haruyéng stared off into space, attempting to ignore Lisel’s jab. His gaze wandered down to the books. “So, we need to get going. Let’s get all these books sorted and put away,” he said.