Chapter 30:

What Now?

Fighting For My Freedom In Another World

What was I supposed to do next?

That was the question that tormented me.

I failed. Unquestionably. No matter how much you tried to argue I wanted to do the right thing, my own actions still undeniably lead to a worse outcome for everyone involved except myself.

I was still alive.

And so was Alena.

If there was any consolation to what had happened, that was it. I would certainly have died if things had turned out differently. I found that a scary thought.

Alena could very well also have died if things had happened differently. I found that an even scarier thought.

But I wasn’t sure that alone could make up for what I had done.

I tried to be selfless and save everyone, yet the final outcome wasn’t making me look anything except selfish.

I had spent my whole life before I came to this world doing all kinds of things, being put up with being called or accused of literally anything, all to avoid being labeled by that one word. Selfish.

The one thing I had tried to prove I wasn’t.

The one thing this day had proved I was.

So, what did I do now? I was still just outside the city with Alena. There was at least no way we could stay there. I didn’t know if anyone would be coming after us. I didn’t know if the people who attacked us had even survived.

But if they had, we’d definitely end up in trouble before too long.

I tried to lift Alena. I managed to hold her for a few seconds, but soon realised I wasn’t strong enough, and she slipped out of my arms.

She didn’t react to hitting the ground. Didn’t react at all to anything I did. By the looks of it she was still awake. Conscious. But utterly unresponsive.

I couldn’t say exactly what had happened to her. Perhaps the pain ended up overloading her mind, leaving her unable to process anything else. Perhaps having her illusions take too much damage was dangerous for Alena herself.

She was… I didn’t really know what she was doing. Giggling to herself? Sobbing? The sound that came out was something inbetween both. She was looking at me, but I doubt she actually saw anything. That her brain actually properly was processing what was in front of her.

I wasn’t strong enough to lift Alena. But we couldn’t just stay where we were.

A quick look at the princess made it all too clear her legs wouldn’t carry her if I just tried to get her to walk on her own. I got her to her feet, then leaned her against me. I had to halfway drag her along, but at least we managed to get somewhere.

Where were we going?


That was all I knew. I had no idea what the geography of this world looked like.

Normally I would have asked Alena for advice. She knew more about this world than I did. Knew more about everything than I did.

I’d like to think I was starting to get the hang of a couple of things by now. But reality was that I had only been in this world for a few days and I knew I would be asking her again as soon as she could give me a coherent answer.

I would just need to be in charge of things until then.

I kept us going. Walked along, doing something halfway between carrying and dragging Alena.

There wasn’t much in the way of sights outside the city. Just grass. Grass. Grass. An endless grassy plain.

I thought I heard people after a while. Voices, talking to each other. I couldn’t make out what they were saying. They weren’t more than murmurs off in the distance.

Approaching them would be a risk. If there was anything I had learned by now, it was that there were way too many people in this world that wanted to kill the princess. I had no guarantee the people I heard wouldn’t just be another group of those.

But on the other hand, I had no idea where I was going. Had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. Didn’t have food or shelter, and would need to take care of Alena too.

Approaching them would be a risk.

But sometimes risks were worth taking.

Once we came closer and I started seeing silhouettes and actually being able to make out what people were talking about, it quickly became clear who these people were.

Ordinary citizens. Denizens of the city I had just destroyed.

They were talking about what would happen to them next. About the evacuation. How they had been reluctant to part with the place they lived even if just for a few hours, but how the threat of weapons and magic had shut them up.

Some of them were excited about getting to go back.

I sincerely hoped their homes weren’t part of all the destruction I had caused.

I hesitated for a moment, but ultimately decided to approach the larger group. I helped Alena stumble along the last few steps towards the crowd.

A woman, by the looks of it a few years older than me, split from the rest of the mass of people and came up to us once we drew closer.

“I’m… I’m so sorry for what must have happened to you two. You didn’t get the news in time?”

“What news?”

I could guess, but it was always better to know for sure.

“The evacuation, of course. You didn’t hear?”
“No, I…”

I couldn’t just tell her the truth. The people here would hate us if I did. And it was fine if they hated me. But telling the truth could put Alena in danger, and that was unacceptable.

“...We got attacked. We were just sitting back at our inn and chatting, and hadn’t heard a thing from anyone. Then this… Lightning thing just came out of nowhere. Took us by surprise.”
“That’s where she got the burn marks from? Your…”

What was Alena to me, exactly? Maybe more importantly, what was I going to tell this woman she was? Friend? No, that didn’t feel right. Sister? We didn’t look anything alike. Then…

“Girlfriend. And yes, that’s where these came from.”

There were multiple burn marks all over Alena’s body. I could only remember actually touching her in a few of those places while I was using my magic. Where did the rest come from?

“I’m so sorry, I… We thought everyone knew about the evacuation already. But I don’t know if we took visitors into account when we made that calculation. We usually don’t really get a lot of them. If there is anything we could do for you, I’m sure all of us would be happy to help.”
“It’s fine, really. It’s not like it’s your fault. You’re not the one that did this. But if you want to do something…”

I looked out over the crowd. There was something that had caught my curiosity. Rather, someone.

An elderly woman right in the middle of the huge group of people. She was crying. Shouting at the people next to her, who were trying to calm her down. Asking if there wasn’t anything someone could do. Someone, just anyone.

“...Do you know what happened to that woman over there?”
“Her daughter was trapped in a fire. A burning mansion slightly out of town, and on the top floor. A different fire from the one in the city, one that only started recently. It’s… Not far from here. You can almost see it, off in the distance. but there’s not much any of us can do. We’re not fireproof, and the fire has already spread too far for our meagre means.”

I could actually see a small light and some smoke from where we were standing.

“This might come as a bit sudden, but would you mind looking after my girlfriend for a while? Just an hour or so. I don’t want her to be left alone in this state.”

“Sure, but what are you…”

I didn’t answer the question. There wasn’t time for that. I wasn’t too happy about leaving Alena alone in her condition, but I doubted anyone would attempt anything in such a large crowd of people.

Instead I ran towards the burning building in the distance. There might still be time.

I did have to internally wonder, what the heck was I even doing? Running towards yet another fire after all the damage my own had already caused?

Yet, I felt something tugging at me at the back of my mind.

The woman’s words. They had made me remember a moment from the fight in the city. I had been hit by fire magic from someone else, and it hadn’t hurt. I barely felt it.

The immunity to my own fire… Wasn’t just immunity to my own fire. It at least seemed to extend to other kinds of magical fire as well.

But what about a natural one?

Would it work then too?

I didn’t know, but I was about to find out.

Those people weren’t fireproof, but maybe I was.