In the sixth chapter ofÂ Battle Magic, Evvy makes a huge decision. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to readÂ Battle Magic.
Trigger Warning: For talk of slavery, torture
JESUS CHRIST, EVVY. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE? I mean, I respect you, and I adore you, but WHAT HAVE YOU DONE???
God, this whole chapter is a continuous build up of dread. THIS WHOLE BOOK IS A NEVERENDING WAVE OF DREAD, OKAY. But this chapter in particular made me feel awful because I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. I was shocked by how suddenly Emperor Weishu exited the story, but I’m worried that this means the invasion of Gyongxe is a lot closer than I anticipated. I am aware of how repetitive I sound at this point, too, given that I can’t stop talking about how worried and anxious and concerned I am. I AM A BALL OF NERVES READING THIS, MY FRIENDS. Just because Weishu wasn’t physically around the palace did not mean everyone was safe, you know?
However, despite Evvy’s clear approval and appreciation for Parahan, I never once thought she’d actually do something to free him. I was so focused on the possible invasion of Gyongxe as the next plot point that it never seemed feasible or believable. Actually, scratch that â€“ I simply never even considered it as a plot point. Everything moved so fast in the opening of this chapter that I expected the trio to be out of the palace within a few pages. But looking back on this, I just noticed that even Briar was haunted by Parahan’s fate. Why didn’t I realize that Evvy would feel even stronger than he did?
But there was no denying it; the plight of the man from Kombanpur bothered him. Any other master would have let them buy Parahan from him, but not Weishu. Parahan was some kind of prize. The emperor could give them nine saddlebags full of gold coins for the Weishu Rose alone â€“ and he had â€“ but he wouldn’t sell this one captive. Briar would have traded all of that gold for Parahan, and he knew Rosethorn and Evvy would have done the same.
Yeah, I’ll venture that Evvy was willing to do a whole lot more. As soon as Briar figured out why Evvy was no longer in her room, I waited for the inevitable disaster. How the hell could sheÂ possiblyÂ get past any of the guardsÂ andÂ into the Pavilion of Glorious PresentationsÂ andÂ get Parahan out of his cage and chainsÂ andÂ out of the palace grounds? Simply put, there were too many obstacles in her way. Even when Briar realized that there was nothing to stop Evvy from fulfilling her plan, I still didn’t have all that much faith. Oh, I believed in their skills and magical abilities! I don’t doubt them for a second. My problem wasÂ other people.
What’s eerie about the entire sequence is thatÂ no one shows up. I expected numerous guards patrolling the area, and I anticipated the three of them having to navigate around them. I thought that they’d get caught while freeing Parahan, but the fact that they don’t? I don’t see that as a convenient plot choice. I see it as a sign of how complacent the guards had gotten. Not just that, though. They probably were so certain of the fear that Weishu had cast down that they didn’t even bother to entertain the notion that someone might want to free Parahan. Hell, that’s more or less what Parahan says:
“They usually leave us prisoners alone at night. Who would be boneheaded enough to help us escape?”
A good point. On top of that, there was a bit of relief in the fact that, as Briar says, most of the mages within the palace didn’t really believe in Evvy and Briar’s magic, so that’s a comfort.Â Somewhat. It reduced my anxiety from a 9 to a 8.89. IF THAT. Guess what sent it back up again?
When he returned to the wall, Parahan seemed to be talking with Evvy. Then he nodded to Briar, turned, and picked up one of the blocks.
The big man had said something to make her think, that was certain. She chewed steadily on her lip until she realized that Briar’s eyes were on her. Then she turned her back to him.
Then she said, “I swear, I’ll tell you once we’re away from the palace. It’s important, but I don’t want to talk about it anymore until we’re on the road. Please, Briar?”
GREAT. WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME? What theÂ hellÂ could he have possibly said to upset her this much?
More on that whenever I actually find out what’s going on. I spent the remainder of this chapter wondering when the imperial guards would put this all together and confront the Emelan party. I didn’t think they had a chance in hell of escaping the palace grounds. Likeâ€¦ who else could it be? Who else might have done it? Did Parahan use an unknown form of magic to get out, or might it have been theÂ super weird magic people from foreign lands????Â Clearly, there’s only one answer. Of course, I’m looking at this from the outside. Rosethorn, Briar, and Evvy were consummate guests of Weishu the entire time they were there. They never aroused any sort of suspicion in terms of their loyalties, so it’s not like anyone would truly consider them to be the culprits.
Yet I couldn’t help the terror I felt when the Mistress of Protocol and A FULL COMPANY OF THE PALACE GUARD awaited them at the gate. Oh my god, THEY KNEW. They had to! So I was surprised that the Mistress was so openly horrified by having to search the group as they left the grounds, but it makes sense to me know. This isn’t something that happens to imperial guestsÂ ever, and thus it seemed offensive to her that she was ordered to do so. My relief was short-lived, though. It’s only a matter of time, right? How far could Parahan truly get from the palace? If the trip out of Yanjing was going to take Rosethorn and them two weeks, how much quicker could Parahan make it?
And then there’s the unspoken threat that hangs over it all. If Parahan is caught, how long until the identity of those who freed him is discovered through torture? H E L P.
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