Riwenne and her friends have done what they can to evacuate Olona City before Empress Huamani attacks her own people. But now the airships have come and it’s time for the next phase of their plan. Read on to find out what happens next.
Before we could react, the first bombs rained down on Olona City. They struck the ruins of the Crystal Temple, freeing the fires that still burned below ground and stoking them so they raged up to consume the nearby buildings. From only a few blocks away, I could see the lives of the sun priestesses flickering out. There was no hope of saving them now.
Amena’s song was cut off. The people we’d lured to the park woke up in a sudden panic, confused about how they’d gotten there and frightened of the attack, and they shoved each other in a rush to run for shelter. I watched the scene dissolve into chaos. Even if we could have gotten them onto the few remaining airships now, the odds were against those ships evading the attack and getting them to safety.
My first instinct was to make our stand and fight. I wanted to defend the people who were left in the city. But that wasn’t our plan.
I steeled myself to turn my back on the carnage. With the onslaught, most of these people would be dead before the city crashed into the ground. I whispered a prayer that their deaths would be quick and painless, and I was sorry for their loss. There was no way to prevent their souls from being used up by Chysa’s magic as she transformed Empress Huamani into a demigoddess.
Deryt had chosen one of the empty airships and he climbed into the cockpit, revving the engines. Kyra was there too, reinforcing the hull against the imperial army’s weapons. The rest of my friends hurried to board, calling for me to join them.
I took one last look at Olona City and the people we were leaving behind. We’d prioritized children and the elderly on the first ships. The ones left were mostly young adults and middle-aged people. As I stared, I saw a woman barely older than me stumble over a piece of debris and fall into a crack in the street. Flames flared up where she tumbled, greedily consuming her body. I felt her cry of anguish like a stab in my heart.
I closed my eyes and turned away.
Janera grabbed my arm. “Come on, Riwenne, it’s time to go.”
I let her pull me onto the airship and help me buckle into a seat. Then I concentrated my magic on shielding us for the takeoff. The enemy ships saw us trying to escape and concentrated their shots on us, but our magic repelled them. There was a bubble of glowing light around our ship and every bullet bounced off it harmlessly.
We were a large target. Deryt kept our retreat slow and deliberate to make sure that we attracted lots of attention.
I scanned the sky and the numerous ships. There was no way to tell, at this distance, which one held the empress. But I was sure that she had seen us.