Chapter 5:

Premature Revolution


The revolution had come.

It did not take long for the Revolutionary Army to hijack screens all over Alf-Laylah wa-Laylah. They showed the populace all the evidence I had provided them of the royal family and nobility’s crimes. Even for those in areas so impoverished that there weren’t even simple televisions available, members of the Revolution Army went into those spaces and showed people the evidence.

Once everyone had seen the whole geschikte, it didn’t take long for nearly all the common citizens to rise up against the Sultanate. Protests filled the streets every day. Fights broke out between regular people and law enforcement.

A lot of people died.

In my eagerness for taking down the evils of the government, I failed to fully grasp the consequences the revolution would inevitably have. Innocents became victims to the brutality of the Laylan police, and the revolutionaries fought back with equal amounts of violence.

The key players in the conflicts were Alchemists. I watched live news feeds showing armies of Alchemists causing widespread destruction as they battled. Solid elements the size of mountains or even planetoids crashed into each other. Liquid elements formed cresting waves that pulverized buildings and forests. Gaseous elements poisoned thousands of people.

This was inevitable. If a revolution on this scale were ever to happen, in a world like this where singular beings could generate energy equivalent to supernovas, then there was nothing to be surprised about. The revolution was for a good cause, it was best that it happened as soon as possible to spare future generations the suffering those of the present knew, and yet I was still shocked at every battle I spectated from Bulukiya. My guilt at having sparked the revolution was greater than anything I felt about my first life.

Nightmares of corpses assailing me, asking me why I forced them to die, came to me every time I slept for even a few minutes. Bags formed under my eyes as I failed to get a good night’s sleep for months.

As the revolution continued, the government kept losing ground. Even if they had most of the strongest Alchemists in the country on their side, the Sultanate was simply outnumbered.

The majority of the Sultanate’s forces were pulled back to be stationed on Bulukiya or on surrounding artificial satellites so they could defend the highest nobles and royal family. This left the majority of Alf-Laylah wa-Laylah on the inner surface relatively abandoned by the Sultanate, allowing the Revolutionary Army to take over and install themselves as an interim government.

There was a lull in the conflict as the Sultanate fortified Bulukiya and the Revolutionary Army was focusing on helping the impoverished citizens, rebuilding after the destruction the fighting caused, and making sure they had solid control over the entirety of Alf-Laylah wa-Laylah on the inner surface.

During this pause, my new family was struggling with reality.

“I won’t allow this! Those commoners will pay for their hubris! They think they could survive for even a week without me? Nonsense!” In an ornately decorated hall of the royal palace, Shahryar sat at the head of a long table covered with a feast of various foods with origins in West Asia and North Africa. Flames spilled out from his body as he watched news channels with his brain implant. The Sultan’s pillar of fire burned right through the ceiling and all the above floors, shooting out into the air above the palace like an erupting volcano. I and the rest of the royal family had to sit at the opposite end of the table to avoid heat stroke. “I’ll teach all those leeches what their place is. They’ll relearn why I am someone to be feared.”

I was also watching the news as I ate a bowl of beef harira, seeing the poor Laylan people cheering as they were liberated and given food by revolutionaries. Teary eyed families were led into proper homes after having lived most of their lives in the street. This was why I gave the push needed to start the revolution, to see salvation brought to those damned by the powers that were. Part of me wanted to feel pride in what I had done because of that.

There was also footage of captured nobles who refused to support the revolution getting burned up to the neck and having stones thrown at their heads until their skulls caved in. Even commoners that weren’t supporters of the revolution for one reason or another had their homes vandalized and burglarized. The fury I put into the people was being directed at every outlet available.

I honestly couldn’t say I felt too bad at watching the nobles die given their crimes, though there had to have been some of them that didn’t deserve it. What truly made me dizzy was watching the abuse the common people brought upon each other. Such a thing was inevitable in any extreme situation, but it still made any pride I wanted to feel vanish.

There was no way I could denounce the revolution for these darker aspects of it, as it had resulted in too much good, but I also couldn’t forget that anything bad that happened would be my fault.

The reason there were so many consequences I never thought of was due to my brashness. My impulsive nature caused me to think only of how to fix the problems I was faced with, and not about how things would fully play out. It turned out that I hadn’t grown nearly enough from the mistakes I made in my old life.

I cursed my impulsivity, especially due to one specific consequence of me anonymously sending the evidence I gathered to the Revolutionary Army.

Among the various news channels I flicked through, one thing I kept seeing was mobs of people crying out their desire for not only the arrest of the royal family, but their execution. People held up signs declaring how they had lost their children due to the evils of the Sultanate, and so Shahryar and Parizade deserved to lose their children.

Shahryar and Parizade weren’t the only ones who would be targeted by this revolution, my sister and I would too. That was such an obvious conclusion to reach when thinking about how this uprising would go, yet I never thought of it. I was so busy getting the evidence that I never stopped to think my plan through. If I didn’t send the evidence anonymously, then even if it might be distrusted, at least it could potentially show that I was on the revolution’s side. That could have given me a good enough standing that I’d avoid getting executed, and I would have been able to persuade the revolutionaries to spare my sister as well.

Why was I so stupid?

My sister was sitting next to me while inhaling a pile of honey soaked sfenj doughnuts, her favorite food. Her face twitched as she never stopped adjusting in her seat. Tawaddud stood behind Dunyazade, her hands tightly clasped.

I remembered when Dunyazade first saw the evidence of the Sultanate’s sins that the Revolutionary Army revealed. This was another eventuality I failed to foresee. My sister was listening to me read her a fantasy novel when she checked the internet with her brain implant and got hit in the face with the video of Parizade torturing people.

While I held no love for my new parents, Dunyazade did. Seeing such graphic atrocities committed by her mother made Dunyazade vomit. She cried and screamed as her panicked state made her unable to stop the video from playing in her head.

With no way to help her, I hugged my sister in an attempt to comfort her as she was forced to watch the video I released into the world. Zumurrud and Tawaddud cleaned up the vomitus.

After that moment, along with seeing more of the evidence against Shahryar and Parizade, Dunyazade began to look at her parents differently. She would already flinch a bit whenever she saw Shahryar, but now she’d take multiple steps back, her cheekbones rising upwards. It was the same for when she saw Parizade, but with the added effect of making Dunyazade dizzy to the point that she’d often need to find somewhere to sit.

I was trying to help Dunyazade by removing her evil parents from her life, and yet I only seemed to hurt her. Were all my actions cursed? My guilt kept on growing.

As Dunyazade distracted herself with food, Parizade picked at her pastilla while her eyes drooped more than usual.

“Oh my, I really haven’t had an appetite lately. This whole insurrection has left me all frazzled.” Parizade pouted. “I’ve been so stressed that I’ve burned through most of the slaves. Those traders really need to raise their slaves to be more sturdy.”

Parizade’s secret was out, and instead of feeling shame over it, she decided to abandon subtlety and openly talk about her interest in torturing people, even around her children. This would make Dunyazade fidget more, and even excuse herself from the room on occasion.

I continued watching the news. Multiple channels were showing a currently unoccupied podium and lectern. A major leader of the Revolutionary Army who had been keeping their identity a secret up until now was going to be making an announcement.

“All this pomp and circumstance for what's probably another commoner. This goes against the natural order,” Shahryar growled. I could tell that Dunyazade and Parizade had also tuned in to see what this mysterious announcement would be.

The man of the hour walked into frame and stood behind the lectern. He had golden hair so long that it went down his back. His eyes were red and his facial features were masculine, but in a way that was beautiful rather than handsome. There was an enchanting quality to his smile. The bisht he wore was black with gold colored trimming, and he had no thawb underneath which made his muscular yet thin body easy to notice.

I shot to my feet from the surprise I felt at seeing this man.

“What?” Shahryar roared as he stood as well, his motion accompanied by a burst of flame that evaporated much of the table in front of him.

Parizade’s eyes went completely wide, and Dunyazade looked at her family in confusion, as she had no idea who the man was.

“Hello, friends, family, equals, my name is Shahzaman.” This man was Shahryar’s younger brother who he had exiled, the same one that Zumurrud was secretly a servant of. He was supposed to be the head of a terrorist organization named Ghoul, but in this timeline, he had apparently joined the Revolutionary Army. “I know many of you must be surprised to see me. There are those of you who may have forgotten me, or who are too young to know me, and that’s probably quite a few of you considering how long I’ve been gone. That sure makes me feel old.” Shahzaman laughed. “Well, put simply, I am the younger brother of the Sultan. Don’t worry, I’m not aligned with him, especially not after he exiled me, though it wasn’t that bad of an experience. I got to learn about many new cultures as I traveled the world, though all of them paled in comparison to our great nation of Alf-Laylah wa-Laylah.”

“Shahzaman!” Shahryar’s flames became hotter, so much so that I created a barrier of oxygen around myself and Dunyazade, as well as all the staff in the room to protect us from being reduced to ash like our surroundings were starting to. Parizade created her own barrier of oxygen for the same purpose.

“Some of you may be wondering why I was exiled. The story given was that I was plotting to overthrow my brother, and you know what, I was in a way, but not so I could become Sultan. I wanted to depose my brother so his reign of terror would be brought to an end!” Shahzaman clenched a fist tight before swinging his arm out in a wide arc. “I had spent too long watching as this country withered under his rule! I had to do something! I just wish I had acted sooner, before I was discovered and removed from the country!”

“Shahzaman, you lying worm! You just wanted my throne!” Shahryar’s fire engulfed him to the point that his actual body couldn’t be seen beyond a dark silhouette. “Even now that’s what you want! This is just your latest scheme! A sneaky little insect, that’s all you are, because you’re weak! You can’t even use Alchemy! I’ll never let you take my throne!”

“Thanks to this revolution, I finally have the chance to make up for my failure! For that, I thank each and every one of you that has supported this righteous cause! I express my gratitude not only with words, but with deeds! For you see, I have a plan which is being set in motion at this very moment that will finally end the Sultanate!”

“Wha-” Shahryar stopped mid word. Flames stopped erupting from his form and he just stood in place, blank faced.

“Darling? Darling? Darling, what's wron-” Parizade was beginning to stand up, but then she stopped and went quiet just as her husband had.

“Mama? Father?” Dunyazade was shaking. Tawaddud put a hand on her shoulder while wearing a look of confusion. Only a couple of the other staff members in the room were also taken off guard. The rest were disconcertingly unphased.

“Both Sultan Sharyar and Sultana Consort Parizade are now under my control.” The voice came from behind me. I turned to see Zumurrud. “You may consider them in the custody of the Revolutionary Army. You will meet the same fate if you resist.”

Of course. If Shahzaman was a part of the Revolutionary Army, then so was Zumurrud.

As an Alchemist, Zumurrud was like Shahryar and I in that she could control and create two elements instead of only one. Her affinity was with calcium and sodium, elements that were important for the functioning of the human body’s neurotransmitters. By controlling calcium and sodium, Zumurrud could manipulate people’s nervous systems, and thus their bodies and minds. She could completely dominate a person’s being to make them do whatever she wanted.

There was a limitation to this ability, that being that a person with a strong enough will could resist being controlled, or even be entirely unaffected. This didn’t really make sense, but that was how it worked in the Al-Kimiya anime so the protagonist, Daud, could have a moment during this fight with Zumurrud where he’d be immune to her manipulation, and everyone would be shocked and think Daud was super cool.

Shahryar was another individual who had an unbending will normally, but people’ wills could become weakened or unfocused when in emotionally unstable states. An example of such a state was extreme rage, like the kind Shahryar was feeling as the revolution usurped more and more of his control of Alf-Laylah wa-Laylah, only to be topped off by seeing the brother he loathed lie like crazy to benefit from his misfortune.

Shahzaman’s speech was not only to acquire the favor of the public by painting himself as the good guy, but also to push Shahryar’s fury over the edge and leave him vulnerable to Zumurrud’s mind control.

“Zumurrud, what are you doing? How are you doing it? I-I…Are you with the revolutionaries?” Tawaddud pulled Dunyazade into her arms, my sister trembling even more as she repeatedly swapped between looking at her parents and Zumurrud.

“Zumurrud…” I fished for something to say. The situation had changed so suddenly that I had yet to feel anything besides surprise.

I wasn’t angry. Shahryar and Parizade needed to be punished for their crimes and this mind control plan was a solid way of doing that.

I wasn’t feeling betrayed, as I always knew where Zumurrud’s loyalties lied, and that she was loyal to Shahzaman due to the abusive upbringing she had.

I was sad. That was the first clear emotion I felt. It was sadness over the fact that this situation had to happen.

After that I was concerned, particularly for Dunyazade and Tawaddud, and it was thanks to that concern that I found something to say.

“Zumurrud, you can do whatever you want to me and my parents, but please spare Dunyazade and Tawaddud. They didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Do not worry. The goal currently is not to kill anyone, merely to incapacitate all major threats and capture Bulukiya. Other infiltrators such as myself are currently capturing major leaders and combatants on this planet, as well as taking control of major control centers so there will be no feasible method of resistance available to the nobility that remains free on Bulukiya. Much of the Sultanate's army has secretly been on our side, so there won’t be much of a fight. At this point, the Revolutionary Army has already won.” Zumurrud said.

“And what will happen to us after that? Are we gonna die?”

Zumurrud’s face spasmed.

“Shahryar and Parizade will. I don’t know about you, Dunyazade, or Tawaddud.” There was a hitch in Zumurrud’s voice when she said that second sentence. Her normally cold face had a strained quality to it, like she was in pain.

Sitting down, I sighed as deeply as I possibly could. My eyes wandered lazily around the room, to the calm employees that were clearly in on the plan, to the ones that weren’t who stood awkwardly in place as they didn’t know what to do, to the incapacitated Shahryar and Parizade, to my sister who was wailing into Tawaddud’s chest, the maid tearing up.

I rubbed my face with my hands. The only reason I wasn’t crying was because I was too busy being amazed at my own stupidity. It was funny to me, in a way, to the point that I giggled a bit.

A second chance at life was gifted to me, and I fucked it up before I even hit puberty.

“I’m sorry.”

My hands left my face so I could look at Zumurrud. She said she was sorry. Her expression was even more pained than before.

“You’re sorry? Dunyazade and Scheherazade are going to die! You think saying sorry will fix any of this?” Tawaddud let go of Dunyazade and stepped towards Zumurrud, her fist clenched. “How dare you?”

“I…” Zumurrud couldn’t make eye contact with Tawaddud. “I don’t know what to say. I’m sorry.”

Tawaddud reeled back her arm. She ran up to Zumurrud and thrust her fist towards her, but I stepped in the way.

As Tawaddud’s punch hit the center of my face, I was pushed back into Zumurrud who caught me. My face didn’t sting or ache, but I was wishing it had.

“Sissy!” Dunyazade shot to her feet.

“My lady.” Zumurrud cradled my body and lowered me to the ground.

“Lady Scheherazade, why did you do that?” Tawaddud dropped to her knees, as did Dunyazade and Zumurrud so they were all on my level. “This bitch betrayed us! Your whole family is going to die because of her! Why protect her?”

“She’s just doing what’s necessary for making a better Alf-Laylah wa-Laylah. Besides, we don’t know her circumstances. Let’s just…I don’t want to see the people I care about hurting each other,” I mumbled.

Everyone was quiet, except for Dunyazade who was still crying. I pulled her into my arms and rubbed her back.

Tawaddud slammed her fist into the ground, her own crying becoming more intense.

I couldn’t see Zumurrud from the angle I was sitting at.

We stayed like that for hours.

I heard explosions and felt the entire planet shake as Alchemists fought outside the palace.

Eventually, the fighting stopped, and the royal palace was filled with members of the Revolutionary Army.

The Sultanate has fallen.

Dunyazade, Tawaddud, and I were escorted out of the palace along with any staff still loyal to the royal family. We were moved into an airship that took us off Bulukiya and down to a prison on the inner surface.

My sister and I were in a white, nearly featureless cell together, one separate from the rest of the cells. Tawaddud was taken away to be incarcerated with other palace staff. I had to restrain Dunyazade when the revolutionaries were taking Tawaddud away, because my sister was afraid that they were taking Tawaddud to execute her and wanted to stop them.

The next few weeks consisted of nothing but Dunyazade and I sitting in our cell, with Dunyazade occasionally bawling her eyes out in my arms. We had no idea what was happening outside, as an electromagnetic field was being generated in our cell that made our brain implants useless. Generators of such fields were common in prisons.

Days inched along as we awaited the dreaded moment when we would be taken out of our cell to be executed. I tried to take Dunyazade’s mind off things by playing games with her, but I basically had to force her to as she had no motivation to do anything but stew in her misery.

But then we had a visitor.

Directly outside the translucent pane that showed the hall outside our cell, Dunyazade stood with her eyes closed. Instead of her maid uniform, she wore a black abaya, though her hair was still in a tight bun. She had bandages on her fingers, her wrists, and all over her neck and face.

“Zumurrud.” I ran over to the pane. “Are you okay?”

“I am fine.” Zumurrud’s eyes were still closed.

“Why are you here?”

“We’re gonna die now, right?” Dunyazade said lifelessly as she sat in a corner.

My chest vibrated and the air felt heavy. As soon as Dunyazade said her assumption, I felt the fear of death flare up inside me. Death had come for me once, and I wasn’t ready for it to take me a second time. I remembered my years as a ghost and the nightmare that it was. Everything in my vision began to spin and liquify, turning into a mud of colors. My blood ran cold and I began to sweat profusely.

I wasn’t ready to die, not so soon after being given a second chance.

“No, you aren’t going to die.”

“What?” I felt like someone just clapped in my face and brought me back to reality.

“You aren’t going to die,” Zumurrud said. “The leaders of the Revolutionary Army voted, and they decided that, no matter what, they would not take the lives of children. Shahryar and the nobles had no qualms with stealing the lives of children, so it was decided that to do the same would make the revolutionaries appear no better than those they hated. In order to project a sense of moral superiority, even the children of the Sultan and Sultana will be spared.”

“And Tawaddud will be spared too?” Dunyazade stood up.


“Thank god!” Dunyazade ran over and hugged me as tightly as she could.

I leaned into my sister as I felt a level of relief I had never previously known. My heart still was beating so quickly that it hurt. It was as if I just ran a marathon.

My sister and I let ourselves quietly enjoy the good news we were given for a couple of minutes.

Honestly, I wanted to immediately fall asleep due to the exhaustion that hit me all at once, but I saw Zumurrud waiting patiently for us.

“What else are you here to tell us?”

“Just one thing. Your parents have been executed. My condolences.” Despite her cold way of wording things, there was a wavering in Zumurrud’s voice that implied genuine sadness for Dunyazade and I.

I experienced nothing but joy at learning Shahryar and Parizade were dead. My only regret was that I didn’t get to watch them die with my own eyes. Admittedly, I was concerned for how Dunyazade would react, but she showed little reaction to hearing they were gone.

“Dunyazade, are you okay?”

“Yeah.” My sister sniffled and wiped her eyes. “Our parents were evil. I still feel bad for some reason, but not that much. They were bad to everyone, even us. It’s a good thing they’re dead.”

I hugged my sister to comfort her despite her claims of being fine, and she hugged me back, both of us closing our eyes.

Even with how hardened my sister had become since the revolution began, she was still a child, and she possessed instinctual affection towards her parents.

After continuing to embrace my sister for a while, a while that I spent pondering what Zumurrud had told my sister and I, the sound of footsteps echoed. I opened my eyes to see that Zumurrud was walking away.

“Wait, Zumurrud!” I ran up to the transparent pane. Zumurrud stopped in her tracks. “You said it was decided that we would be spared because we’re kids, but there were tons of people that I saw online and in the news who didn’t care and wanted Dunyazade and I to die. Even if there are a lot of people who wouldn’t approve for moral reasons, I doubt there would be any big upheaval if my sister and I were executed. On the other hand, if we were executed, tons of the country’s citizens would be ecstatic. The new government would get more approval from the populace if they went through with killing us than if they didn’t.”

“True, but neighboring nations would see Alf-Laylah wa-Laylah’s new government as barbaric if it started killing children as soon as it’s been established.” Zumurrud didn’t face me as she spoke.

“The other nations already see Alf-Laylah wa-Laylah as barbaric because of Shahryar. Our country has horrible relations with our neighbors, it can’t get much worse unless we declare war on somebody.”

“A fair point.”

“On top of that, Shahzaman is obviously vying to become the new leader of the country, and he, along with every other aspiring politician, would want my sister and I to be dead given we could claim we have a right to rule due to our lineage. Anyone who wants to restore the old regime and delegitimize the new government will try to use us to make it happen.”

“Another fair point.”

“What I’m trying to say is that it would take a lot of convincing to make the higher ups in the Revolutionary Army spare my sister and I.”


“It wouldn’t be too difficult though if the person doing the persuading had a lot of goodwill with the Revolutionary Army’s leadership, goodwill like the kind you’d get for being the hero not known to the common public who captured the evil Sultan and Sultana.”

“I believe you’re overthinking this.”

“Persuasion would also be made easier if the person in question leveraged the fact they’re familiar with Dunyazade and I, and they can argue that they know our character and that we aren’t like our parents and would never become a threat.”

“You’re overthinking this.”

“And assuming that the individual doing the persuading is a subordinate for Shahzaman, who would be very unhappy that my sister and I are still alive, Shahzaman would probably punish that subordinate. The abuse might be so extreme that the subordinate would be all bandaged up, and Shahzaman could perhaps tell them not to take regeneration pills to heal themself so they have to suffer through slowly healing naturally.”

“You’re overthinking this.”

“For fuck’s sake.” My head leaned to the side and I groaned. “I’m done with subtext. Zumurrud, I know you’re the reason we were spared, and I know you’re all beat up because of that. You shouldn’t take Shahzaman’s shit, but I know I can’t convince you about anything relating to him right now, so for the moment I’ll just say thank you. Thank you for saving my life, and more importantly, Dunyazade and Tawaddud’s lives. There’s nothing I could ever do that could fully and truly repay you for that.”

Zumurrud didn’t respond, and she didn’t turn around. Instead, she just stood in place for a few seconds before walking away.

Now I was alone with Dunyazade who latched onto my side and nuzzled into me. I put an arm around my sister as I thought about not only our future, but Zumurrud’s future too.

While what my life would become was uncertain, I would at least be able to take solace in Dunyazade and Tawaddud’s company. As long as we had each other, we could prop each other up when we were at risk of falling.

Meanwhile, Zumurrud had nobody. The only person she could turn to was Shahzaman, and she just pissed him off by saving me and my sister. Despite being a hero who helped take down the Sultanate far more peacefully than most could have hoped to, Zumurrud was tied to an abusive and avaricious snake. It was hard to imagine happy things were in store for her, and that made me feel guilty for reasons I couldn’t put into words.

There was also the guilt I felt for my mistakes in preparing for the revolution, and how those mistakes led to the suffering of Dunyazade and Tawaddud. So many years had passed, and yet my impulsivity still haunted me and my loved ones.

But at least I got the revolution going. I did something that helped stop countless evils from occurring in the future. Shahryar and the old government were major antagonists in the anime, but now they had been dealt with.

The ripple effect from my actions would surely make Underworld a better place. No matter what happened next, I could always take solace in that.