Chapter 52

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Subduing the half hearted resistance of the colonial guards had proved trivial. Joanna didn't even need to keep her sword out to help the Dans herd the disarmed prisoners into the cages they had once guarded. After she had shown them the charred skeletons of her previous victims, the women who had lived through the battle flinched at the sight of the Knight's bare hand. It was a clear night, one with a full moon overhead. As Joanna sent off the last Angleyan prisoners, she came back toward Charlotte, who was conversing with Colonel Bauer. The man looked bewildered yet pleased with his victory.

"There are literally dozens, possibly over a hundred Internment Zones scattered around this Province alone," Bauer was saying. "How did you know the girl would be in this one?"

Charlotte winced a little, guilt rippling across her face for a fleeting second. "I lead the team that captured her. I was in charge of processing her and her tribeswomen into this Zone."

"And now you're undoing your work because of shifting sands in your capital," Wilhelm said.

"I'm doing it to get a child back," Charlotte snapped. "And you're helping me because we have a common enemy."

Bauer took a step back and held his hands up, almost in a gesture of appeasement. "Fair enough. And, to your credit, the Amazon girl seems to know quite a lot. And she's eager to tell us everything she knows if it means revenge against your people." It was odd just how amenable the Dannic officer was being to Charlotte. Joanna made a note to herself to keep an eye on the man.

"Can I see her now?"

"Be my guest. I would, however, refrain from talking too much about your role in her imprisonment in the first place."

***

Though it was far from palatial, the room Hakana stayed in was thankfully much more tolerable than the bare metal cage she had been confined to. There were a row of over two dozen cots in the retrofitted barracks, though currently the girl had the place to herself, with a pair of guards watching the doors on either end. She perked up from her slumber when the trio of Knights stepped in, wary, but otherwise friendly. "Thank you," she said. "When do we leave to find the rest of the Auras?"

"As soon as the sun comes up," Charlotte replied. "How much do you know about energy casting?"

"I didn't even know I was one until my village was attacked."

Charlotte sat down on the bed next to the girl. She slowly drew out her sword, pointing the tip away to ensure the child didn't feel threatened. "Do you know what this is?"

"Runesteel. They say blades of it never lose their edge."

"Well, that's not completely true." Charlotte held the weapon up in front of the lights on the ceiling. "Look at its shadow."

Hakana looked down, only to furrow her eyebrows. "It's... lighter. There is no shadow."

"Runesteel is powerful not because it resists, but precisely because it is the most perfect conductor of energy. The light from that ceiling would normally shine on an object, then bounce off because that object forcibly reflected the light. Not this metal though. Any energy that comes in contact with it, be it light, a bullet, or something you cut open with the blade itself, passes in its entirety." To demonstrate, Charlotte propped the sword up against one of the bed posts and shot a small yellow flame at the center of the blade. The small blast sent a palpable breeze around the building, but when it hit the metal the sword remained perfectly still. It glowed a faint reddish orange for a brief moment before fading back to its normal silver hue. Once it had cooled, the sword flew back into Charlotte's summoning hand.

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