Chapter 27:

What's Next After You Burn Down a Building?

Fighting For My Freedom In Another World

Did I really want to go through with it? Bookmark here

I only had a few seconds to decide. A few seconds before my magic caught up to her and it would all be over. Bookmark here

I could do it. I once thought I couldn't, but I was wrong. The only thing that had been holding me back was a lack of knowledge of how my magic worked. Not my own feelings, not being too sentimental.Bookmark here

Nothing like that. Bookmark here

It was just… If I did this now, if I really went through with this. Bookmark here

What would that make me? Bookmark here

Someone I didn’t want to be. That was what. Bookmark here

The flaming cage that had been expanding outward with me and Alena in the center stopped, then changed directions and started shrinking. Grew smaller until it was only just large enough to protect us, but wouldn’t be winning me any fights. Bookmark here

“Why… Why did you stop?”
“I can’t kill her, Alena. I can’t. Even if it would help get us to safety.”Bookmark here

“Fine”, the princess sighed, “Somehow I had a feeling something like this might happen. Guess there’s no helping it. Just… Get us out of here, alright? I don’t care how, and I’ll help if you need me. Just tell me to do whatever you want me to… And you don’t have to be afraid of exposing me to painful stuff either. I can handle it. I don’t even mind it. Now, what are we doing?”

It wasn’t that easy. Bookmark here

If I was going to win without killing my opponent, I either needed to outsmart her or overpower her only ever so slightly, only enough that she would give up on the fight but not enough that she’d die from my magic. Bookmark here

It would require a balancing act. Need me to use just the right amount of magic, adjust the power and heat of my fire so it was only just dangerous enough. Bookmark here

And I couldn’t do that. Bookmark here

I was powerful, but I was still a complete beginner at magic. I could do a couple of different things, make my magical flames turn into a small variety of different attacks or means of blocking them. But I could only ever do each of them at full strength, not ever adjust how much of my full power I was outputting. Bookmark here

That meant I needed to find magic that would overwhelm my opponent without also killing her at the same time. Bookmark here

Did I have any like that? Bookmark here

It didn’t take much thinking to conclude I didn’t. Bookmark here

So much for that train of reasoning. Bookmark here

The woman I had been on the verge of killing had already turned around and was heading back towards us. Apparently she wasn’t going to give up that easily. You’d think a near-death experience would make most people reconsider, but some were more stubborn than that. Bookmark here

Before the woman had time to start attacking us again, an armoured soldier came out from behind a distant building and shouted to her. Bookmark here

"Lady Nina. The evacuation is complete!"Bookmark here

A smile filled the woman’s face. So her name was Nina? Always good to remember the name of the people who tried to kill you, I suppose. Bookmark here

"Thank you for the report. What about the king's soldiers?"Bookmark here

"We have eliminated all presence of the royal military in the city. A few of them were already taken out by someone else, though. Lying unconscious on the way here… We finished them off. The two you are fighting should be the only two remaining."Bookmark here

“Good. Seems like we are almost done here. Gather up what remains of our forces and come here to aid me.”
“As you wish, Lady Nina!”Bookmark here

The soldier ran off again, probably to get backup, based on what they had been talking about. As for what to make of their conversation… Bookmark here

“Maria”, the princess whispered to me, “I think there may have been a bit of a misconception.”
“And that would be?”
“They talked about the royal military, right? Maybe they think we’re part of it.”Bookmark here

In that case, maybe there was an easier way to go about this. Bookmark here

“Hey, you over there! Nina… Was it?”, I called out to her. Bookmark here

“There isn’t enough time left for discussion, and we will not accept your surrender, if what you wish is either of those.”Bookmark here

“I just want to say that I think there’s been a misunderstanding. We’re not part of the royal military. We’re not here because of the king.”Bookmark here

“You have the princess with you. Would you still have me believe you have no affiliation to the royal military?”Bookmark here

Good point. Completely missing the mark, but still a good point. Bookmark here

“I didn’t think it was that easy to recognise me…”, Alena muttered beside me. Bookmark here

“You know, I actually don’t think it is. You look basically nothing like when I first saw you. You looked much more proper and pretty then.”Bookmark here

“So you’re saying I’m not pretty anymore?”Bookmark here

“Nope. At the moment I feel like you’re more cute than pretty.”
“What’s the difference?”Bookmark here

“Back then you looked more, like… Regal and majestic. Like it would be the wiser decision to just admire you from a distance. Now you look more… Huggable? Like someone you’d want at your side. Something like that.”Bookmark here

“Guess… I can accept that. By the way, I think that shield of yours is starting to fade. Maybe it’s about time you actually did something to get us out of here?”

The princess was right. Bookmark here

The cage made of fire I had created to protect us was starting to fade. Somehow I felt like spending the entire time it had bought us just talking may not have been the best use of time, but it was already too late for regrets. Bookmark here

I needed to find a way to get us to safety. Bookmark here

What if I just created a shield behind us and we ran as fast as we could until we got out of the city? Bookmark here

On one hand, that could safely get us outside… But on the other hand, there was no reason to believe we’d be safe just because we made it outside the city borders.Bookmark here

A way to get me and Alena to safety, some strategy that would get us to safety before my magic ran out...Bookmark here

“By the way, Maria. If you remember what that Nina lady said just a moment ago… What was that stuff about an evacuation?”Bookmark here

“Evacuation… Come to think of it, have you seen any people on our way here?”Bookmark here

“Aside from the soldiers? Nope, not a single soul.”Bookmark here

I had been too preoccupied with all the fighting to think about it, but that was definitely unnatural. But if it was true that the city had been evacuated, then… Perhaps there was something I could do.Bookmark here

The barrier around me and Alena was about to fade. Once it did, I’d need to find something to fuel more magic or we would be left helpless. Bookmark here

The house I had been burning down to get my energy was completely gone at this point, the whole thing reduced to nothing but ashes. A whole house, for only a minute or two of fighting. Bookmark here

But why stick to just one? Bookmark here

I thought back to what I had been told only a few hours after I came to this world. I had been accused of, among many other rather nasty things, “burning down whole cities”. I hadn’t done that, but the witch that had this body before me did, and we had the same magic...Bookmark here

For the sake of argument, let’s assume those cities were about the same size as this one. There were probably a few thousand buildings in the city as a whole.Bookmark here

How much magic wouldn’t that let me use? If the witch needed to burn down whole cities, what kind of monstrosity was she trying to take on? Or had it all just been for her own amusement? Bookmark here

Did it really matter?Bookmark here

What she did was probably awful, but it also gave me the key to getting out of our current predicament.Bookmark here

Based on what we had overheard, some kind of evacuation had taken place. Furthermore, that soldier had been commanded to gather up all the other soldiers that weren’t already dead… So if I could be sure there weren’t any living people anywhere else in the city…Bookmark here

I had my answer.Bookmark here

But still, to think it was so much easier than I had thought it would be. Bookmark here

It was all just so simple. There wasn’t anything complicated about this situation.Bookmark here

I just had to burn down the city. Bookmark here

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