chapter 13

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Lan was suddenly yanked away as two ice daggers flew. He heard them swoosh by his right ear. 

“Don’t just stand there!” Beika pulled him by the hand and started running. Two more ice daggers were shot. “Melancho! Hey! Move!”

His feet followed the force of a pull and followed where Beika led. They followed the speed she took, side-winding left and right through the grass as more ice daggers were shot at them from behind. 

His master’s killer was in front of him. Only Beika being there stopped him from being killed as well. His master’s killer stood in front of him, ready to take him, too. He wanted to kill the Selati with a fire torch. He wanted to be killed by the Selati with an ice dagger. He was not sure what he wanted anymore. 

If the Selati had been stopped, he might have completed the Force Field without distractions, and history would have been very different. But deep inside him he knew that, whether they were infiltrated or not, whether the master was killed or not, whether he was distracted or not, he would have failed to complete the Force Field, and history would still be the same. 

Beika picked up the pace as they reached the merchant path back to the capital. The Selati was still after them, maintaining an even pace, keeping a steady gaze at them. More ice daggers were shot, some grazing Beika’s sleeves and Lan’s trousers as they ran. 

“I don’t know what happened, Lan, I’m sorry! He was suddenly like that!” Beika panted as she spoke. 

“You should have let him do it,” he said. 

“Are you out of your mind? I’m never going to let anyone hit you with anything point-blank! I am never going to let that happen again! Never!” Beika ducked as an ice dagger flew overhead. “I am not going to lose you to anything, Melancho. Do you understand?” 

Lan created a small fire barrier between themselves and the Selati without encoding. 

He wanted to kill the Selati with a fire torch. He wanted to be killed by the Selati with an ice dagger. He had no idea anymore what he wanted out of the Selati. He just wanted all this to be over and done with. His power was quite spent already from the practicing he just did, but Beika’s firm grip on his wrist was impossible to wrench himself from.

His feet stepped one after the other as Beika pulled him on, but his movements were already mindless and tired. Beika did not know the merchant path, she simply followed the straight path to its foreseeable end at the gates. He was too tired to care where she was headed.

They reached the gates of the capital by running through the night, weaving through the fields, running behind rocks and trees whenever possible. 

Guards at the gate, some programmers of various types and some commoners, saw them running, saw the person still shooting ice daggers at them. Lan saw one of the guards run in and sound an alarm. Soon a larger group of guards appeared with steel spears. 

One guard came out with a short bow, loaded with a special arrow. The arrow was shot, straight toward the Selati. It hit him in the right leg, and as electric shocks surrounded the Selati, he fell face down. 

“Soji!” Beika turned around and shouted. “No!” She ran up to the Selati and tried to touch him, but the electric shock sparked. She had to back away. “Don’t hurt him! Don’t hurt Soji!” 

Lan hoped Beika would make up her mind about the Selati. Did not want him chasing her. Did not want him captured. Could she please settle on one or the other. Because he could not decide what we wanted, either. He could barely stand now. He was still aware of the commotion around them, but he was really tired. 

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