Chapter 5:

The Fighter of the Favela, Part II

Desert Company

The rough rocking caused Suruj to awaken in an iron cage. The swaying of the room prompted him to vomiting. He felt the moldy brown sandwood below his feet, and tried to lift his arms, only to notice that his fists and the upper part of his arms were binded with some sort of metal. On top of the metal there was a glowing mechanism, blinking white at random intervals.

“Yu’v been outo foru tori hours.”

In the same cell was a girl, who sat alongside the metal wall. With black hair that had appeared long, she wore the same metal bindings as he did. The girl spoke Galag with an Azu accent, but it was mutually intelligible to Suruj.

“Maaari ka bang makapagsalita ng Galag,” Suruj responded, “W- what is this place?...”

“Iesu. Kan’to yu see? Sis is a… ‘fune’. So yu wer teiken awei bai Aru-Wa, jayone?”

He noticed a pattern that whenever she didn’t know a word she would substitute it with an Azu word.

“Al-Wa… But I refused their letter… What happened?”

There was a brief silence as the boat rocked violently into seemingly a large wave. No windows were present, and the forecastle was only lit by two light bulbs on the ceiling.

“Wasureta no? If yu don akusep sei retta den sei teik yu awei,” The girl answered, stretching and closing her eyes, “Bi en hearu foru a rizon.”

After her words, the memories came flooding back to Suruj, the fight at Juancito Ward, being attacked by Al-Wa soldiers, the death of...

“I… I…” Suruj curled his body up, his body weeping at the reality that he experienced. Everything happened too fast. He felt like he lost something. But Suruj’s head could barely process what happened.

He felt a light tap on his head. Upon looking up, he saw the girl with a worried expression.

“Don gib up. Za is a rong bo- jyourni ahead. Want to ekusucheenje ‘kiok’?”


“Un. Ai don nou ze warud. Yu’r remenburanses.”

“You mean memories? The Galag word is ‘Ala-ala’,” Suruj corrected her, sitting upright, “A la, a la.”

“Ara-ara,” She repeated back, the pronunciation being messed up. “Mai ‘Ara-ara’, ai was en Bayanbürd-shi. Mai fada wan’ e son, not e daata. Wen ai was bon, Hi did not raik mi.”

“Your father didn’t like you?”

“Iesu,” She continued her story, closing her eyes as if to remember the ‘Ala-ala’, “Fada refuto mai mada and ‘kekkon’ with a Z̆ongren ‘oman and had e son. Ai got anguri, but ai attak sem bai akushidento. Ai…”

Suruj understood the basis of before she got here, even if some, most of it wasn’t intelligible to him. The girl was another person like him, a person of unnatural high saharic mastery for their age. Discovered by Al-Wa, given the letter, and declined the invitation. Suruj wondered if there were more people taken away by Al-Wa for refusing the letter. But it only took a few glances around the forecastle that gave him the idea that they were the only ones on the boat.

“And yu? Yu’r ‘Ara-ara’?”

“I- I… Well…”

He gave only brief details of his life, that he played with sahar as a kid and how he was captured, in Juancito Ward of Dyak-ar-salaam. Suruj never mentioned the deaths. He felt like he couldn’t explain what happened nor how he felt.

“How’d you know I was a Buhang?” He asked.

“Yu bi supiikin’ Galag while yur asleep. Sori zat mai Galag isn’t gud. Ai raik kerubin.”

“Jyaa,” Suruj placed his hand on the girl’s shoulder. “You speak Azu to me, and I speak Galag to you. That way we will both try to understand each other.”

“Wai?” She took his hand off quickly, scared. “Ai kan andasutand yu paafekuto.”

“I mean, we can understand each other when we escape from Al-Wa,” He insisted, his eyes and face hinting a bit of determination and rage. “We refuse to fight in the Dineh Kazaàd. Al-Wa is our enemy.”

The entire time, they spent it conversing and trying to think of a way to escape. The metal bindings on their hands somehow prevented them from using their sahar, as if the binds were acting from a barrier. Without sahar, they were almost powerless. Suruj had tried to smash one light bulb in the cage to disable the mechanism in the shackles, but amounted to nothing except less light in the forecastle. They then tried to destroy the sahar-limiting mechanisms.

She spat on her arm, and let the saliva trickle down into the opening that bound her hand. Then she wiggled and twisted in a rotating motion, until the girl pulled her right arm out of the metal anti-sahar canceller.

“Whoa, that’s- use sahar to get your shackles off now,” Suruj whispered. But she took Suruj’s shackle and held it.

“Wat hand yu use?”

“Uh, my right.”

“Mahou Hiryok.”

White particles gathered towards her and she shattered the device connected to the shackle on his right hand. The sound of a deactivating mechanism was heard.

“Don teik it off. Wi niid to purotend wi are still binded.”

Suruj followed her word as she slipped her right hand back into the shackle. He could now use sahar, but only at a certain threshold, as the limiter on his left hand was still active. But it was hope. Hope that they could fight back against the people taking them. If they were to escape now, they would have nowhere to escape from the boat, so the two had to wait until it docked.

Suddenly the hatch connecting to the deck opened as the sunlight warned Suruj and the girl. Quickly they silenced themselves as two Al-Wa grunts climbed down into the forecastle. The boat was still out at sea as far as Suruj could tell, so it was most likely a security check, he thought. The Al-Wa men took off their helmets, and revealed that they were Z̆ongren.

“The capture in Dyak-ar-salaam is surely going to cause a ruckus,” One of them said, and Suruj could not understand anything in Renhua. “The boy wouldn’t go out without a fight, and now imagine the political issues with the destruction of the ward.”

“Al-Wa already paid off the Buhanggilog na Kalihim. Passing the entire incident off as a Khoitan terrorist attack. The country’s corrupted anyway, and the Khoitans have a bad reputation there. Remember the massacre that happened ten years ago?”

“Ah, I see, I guess we don’t have to worry.”

Both laughed as Suruj’s anger rose from not understanding the Renhua conservation. The girl only just watched and observed solemnly. Suruj huddled over to her.

“Do you understand what they are saying?” He whispered, wanting to know what the conversation was about.


“Ha? Nǔmen shuū bù shuū Jiālǎgé?”

One of the grunts noticed him whispering, and immediately began walking towards the cage. It was only a second before the cage opened and Suruj was dragged out.

“You damn Buhang. Trash like you are polluting our country!” The man kicked him, sending him rolling across the floor. Small sandwood splinters entered his skin.

“I can’t understand you… Al-Wa puppet,” Suruj berated the grunt, breaking his bindings, standing up weakly. “Alam-”

“Mahou Hikari!”

The girl brought her hand back and held it out while chanting. Light flooded the room in intense white. It dazzled everyone below the deck. Blinded by the spell, someone took Suruj’s hand and was guided above the deck.

The sun was bright, the salty wind calm. The Takaí-Hăi Sea. The ship was a Z̆ongren junk, a small cargo freighter with a Buhang style sail. Its mast had a large horizontal windmill used to generate force for the sail. Salt water splashed onto the deck, soaking Suruj’s feet. The gentle rocking of the boat was enough for the Al-Wa sailors to process that Suruj and the girl had escaped from the forecastle.

“Rúhé?! Tūmen lúh zhèer ma?!”

Suruj spotted a smaller boat near the edge, most likely for emergencies or dispatches. He ran towards it, nearly slipping on the wet floor. Grabbing the boat, untying the ropes, he pushed it into the sea with all of his might. The boat slipped onto the ocean without capsizing.

“Oi! We can use this boat!” Suruj shouted, looking for the girl. But he found her holding back the Al-Wa men from grabbing their weapons.

“Mahou Baohu!” The girl formed a barrier that surrounded her, as she ran towards Suruj. He jumped into the sea. She then stopped.

Suruj swam towards the small boat and grasped his hand around the sandwood railing. The waves guided him with the boat. Once he climbed on, he rowed with his hands towards the junk. The girl froze at the edge of the sea, frightfully looking down upon it.

“C’mon!” Suruj shouted, as he neared the edge of the ship, but ducked to the gunfire that ensued. The Al-Wa soldiers couldn’t pierce through her shield of ‘Mahou Baohu’, but soon the leader would show up and possibly break the spell.

“Ai… kan’t swim…”

“You can use sahar and jump! I’ll swim to you if I have to!”

A door slammed open. The leader of the grunts finally came out from his quarters. A soldier handed him his rifle. The girl lied in the scope’s crosshairs. Suruj couldn’t think of anything. He tried to think, think of a way. The image of his family flashed through his mind. The gun fired, as the projectile flew. It touched the barrier, beginning to crack. She nervously glanced at Suruj, who was only a few meters away from the ship on the tiny boat. Her eyes closed.

“Mahou Tsubasa,” She jumped off the ledge. The bullet pierced her barrier and projected into the water. Wings and Earth.

“Alam Daigdig!”

Particles gathered around him as Suruj punched his hand into the sea. She was falling. The sahar of the ocean responded. The clouds neighed high. Large geysers blasted around the area. One of the blasts sent the girl flying upwards. However, this time she was not falling. She glided through the air. It looked as if she were floating down like a bird with wings. Her hair flew in the direction of the draft. Suruj rowed forward and caught the girl as she landed on the boat. Kerubin, he remembered what she said.

“Mahou Hiryok,” She stretched her hand towards the sea on the stern of the boat. The girl propelled themselves away from the ship as they narrowly escaped gunfire from the Al-Wa troops.