East (Chapter Four, page 1 of 19)


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The journey out of the city was another level of surreal. My senses were overloaded by the fire and smoke, the screams of slaughter and the sense I'd been dropped into a video game without a controller.

Batu strode through his fellow warriors to cheers and teasing about being captured. They supplied him with two horses - in exchange for ears, which weirded me out to no end. As if suspecting I was one heartbeat from fleeing, he rode with Flowers in front of him while I had my own horse. I followed him closely through the maze of fire and death out of the city, unable to take in the world around me - but sickened by my own cowardice. All I could think of was that I was glad I wasn't one of Flowers' people being beheaded or killed, that I was happy to be alive when the rest of the world was on fire.

The thoughts and relief didn't seem … natural. Or healthy or right. I didn't wish any of the people around me dead, but I was glad not to be among them, either.

It was a strange mindset to be in.

The rocky land beyond the city was cool and dark. We cantered through the fires I'd seen from my window, and I was able to see they were indeed decoys. There was no encampment here, only campfires evenly spaced to give the appearance of an army.

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