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Foul Lady Fortune: Chapter 50

The world did not return slowly; it came back in a sudden jerk, like her brain had been kicked into commission with the flip of a switch. Rosalind tried to rise right away, afraid that she was in danger, but someone at her side pushed her back down.

There was no danger. This was a hospital.

She was lying in a hospital bed.

With that initial verdict made, Rosalind registered her surroundings one after the other. Smooth white walls. Midafternoon light. An intravenous line plugged into the inside of her elbow, and Celia sitting in a chair by her bed.

“Don’t pull that out,” her sister warned immediately.

Rosalind’s fingers were already twisted around the line, giving it a yank. The needle slid out. The miniature wound closed up.

Celia sighed. “I tried. How are you feeling?”

“Perfectly fine.” Rosalind shifted up on the bed. The pain had disappeared. They must have operated to remove the bullets, and as soon as those were gone, her body knew how to heal its wounds. There were bandages swathing her middle, poking out under her thin gown, but there would be no injuries underneath.

“So, what do you want to hear first?” Celia asked. “Everything you missed while you were under, or how I’m sitting here without being hauled in by your Nationalists?”

“The first one,” Rosalind said, flopping her arms over the covers. “I already know the latter: you’re sneaky.”

Celia lifted a brow, leaning into the chair. She was dressed in a qipao with her hair pinned in elaborate braids, two loops of jewelry around her neck underneath her usual jade pendant. She had entered the hospital as a member of the elite, not as an agent of the Communist Party.

“I always miss you, but I don’t miss your sense of humor.”

“Who said I was trying to be funny? I’m serious.”

Celia shook her head, an amused titter escaping her lips. For several long moments, she remained unspeaking, gathering her thoughts. Then: “I heard about Warehouse 34. The whole rundown. Apparently, we had agents near the scene, but when they saw what was going on, we didn’t join the fray.”

Rosalind still couldn’t work out what exactly had happened. Priest was there too and had helped them—didn’t that count as joining the fray?

“How did they know to go?” she asked.

“That… that is the other matter I need to tell you.”

Celia drew her legs up, propped on the side of the bed so that she could rest her arms on her knees. She cast a glance over to the door of the hospital room, ensuring that no one was lurking within hearing vicinity.

“One of our double agents has publicly entered our ranks. He has relinquished his previous Kuomintang association.”

Rosalind pushed herself upright. Celia didn’t stop her this time.

“He was near discovery,” her sister continued. “The Kuomintang had heard about a file containing the code names of three undercover Communists within their ranks. Once different branches sent people out to get ahold of the information and it started moving, it would be a matter of time before he and two of his men were exposed for communicating with each other when they were allegedly not in acquaintance. He faked his own incapacitation early to ensure he could get away.”

“No,” Rosalind whispered. Though her thoughts swirled with sheer incomprehension, she knew who this had to be. She had stolen that very file on his instructions. It had never been information about Priest. It had been his own identity on the verge of exposure.

Celia nodded. “Trust me, if I had known when you were telling me about the file, I would have shared it then. But this was too high up to reach me until now. Dao Feng was Lion. Two agents in the Zhejiang covert branch were Gray and Archer. Once their inevitable exposure was confirmed, there was no way to continue undercover work. The same night that Dao Feng pretended to be attacked, he sent messages warning Gray and Archer to wrap up and leave before the Kuomintang could catch up to them.”

Rosalind dropped her head into her hands. This was cruel. Those messages in warning—she sent them. She pushed them into the mailbox, happily believing everything Dao Feng told her without a second thought. Was she doomed toward this narrative for all eternity? Was everyone she loved a liar intent on betraying her?

She thought back to every moment with Dao Feng, every piece of advice he had given her, every lesson he had imparted. How much of Dao Feng’s care toward her had been genuine? Every time she thought she had sealed up her old wounds, another grand actor took off their mask and came slashing at them again.

She breathed out slowly, dragging her hands along her cheeks. Her own handler had been a double agent. She had a sister on the opposite side. The Nationalists were never going to trust her again—hell, she wouldn’t even trust herself. Beyond the throbbing betrayal tearing at her heart, she was almost angry. Dao Feng could have told her. He knew she wasn’t particularly loyal to the Nationalists.

Why hadn’t he brought her with him?

Rosalind pushed her emotions away. Now that she was awake, there were more important matters at hand.

“Celia,” she said quietly. “Orion’s mother took him. Plunged a syringe right into his neck and wiped him clean….”

Celia looked regretful. “I know.” She leaned to her right, reaching for something on the bedside table. Slowly, Celia slid the newspaper in front of her, angling it so that Rosalind could read the text.


The sub-headline continued in large font. Rosalind made a brief scan of the page, catching “taking disguises at Seagreen Press” and “Hong Buyao arrested for collaboration with the Japanese,” but she couldn’t read any more. She pushed the paper away. Then spat a curse.

“Oh, it gets worse,” Celia said. There was another newspaper waiting on the bedside table. This one Celia didn’t even maneuver delicately. She put it right onto Rosalind’s lap.


Rosalind breathed out slowly. “Dear God.”

“I had a similar reaction.” Celia took the two newspapers away. “Don’t waste time fretting that the Kuomintang won’t trust you anymore because your handler had the wrong loyalties. They cannot use you as an agent anymore. Your identity has leaked to the whole of Shanghai. In truth, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone within their ranks leaked it themselves just to get you pulled from commission.”

Rosalind felt the scream build at her throat. And build and build and build.

“Orion is not hanjian,” she whispered. Of all the details plastered on the front page of a newspaper, that was the one that annoyed her the most.

Celia said nothing. She let Rosalind broil in her anger.

“One more thing,” her sister added when a moment had passed. “Alisa has disappeared.”

What? Rosalind sat up taller. “Is she in danger?”

“I don’t think so. She came to give me something but… then she ran off. I cannot comprehend why.”

Neither could Rosalind. Given how Lady Hong had reacted to the crate that Rosalind destroyed, Alisa was now holding on to the only version of the successful chemical experiment. Perhaps the Imperial Japanese Army would begin efforts to re-create it, but it would take considerable time.

“She’ll be okay,” Rosalind said. She didn’t know if she was reassuring Celia or herself. “She knows what she’s doing.”

A knock sounded on the door then, though no nurse came in. Celia hopped to her feet quickly and reached out to squeeze Rosalind’s hand.

“I must go.”

“Already?” Rosalind sounded like a petulant child. She didn’t care. It was almost bizarre—though the two of them had come into the world at the same time, Rosalind had always thought of herself as the eldest one. Only now Celia looked so much older, like a true adult who had become certain of her place in the world. Whereas Rosalind… Rosalind didn’t know if she would ever find that.

“I can find you later. That was my five-minute warning before your Nationalists arrive at your room to debrief you.” Celia tried for a smile. “Don’t stir trouble in the meantime, understand?”

“When did you become the older sister?” Rosalind grumbled.

Celia tightened her grip once more, then let go. “When I aged past you,” she answered quietly. “Au revoir, Rosalind. Take care.”

“Goodbye,” Rosalind whispered after her sister, a pang in her heart as Celia turned back to wave through the glass panel in the door. She blinked her tears away, then clambered out of the bed. Though she was healed, she was exhausted, her legs heavy as she walked to the window.

Shanghai bustled on outside. The hospital was on a hill, which meant she could see the rooftops of the other lower wings. Beyond those rooftops was the front courtyard and then the rest of the street: laughing children bouncing their rubber balls, old men selling fried skewers, women passing out flyers for a cabaret show.

Rosalind pressed her fingers to her temple, trying to smooth out the tension there. A wooden toy rolled onto the road. When a small child ran after it, his mother hauled him back by the collar. Rosalind could not hear what the mother was saying from her distant hospital room, but the stern finger spoke volumes.

God. Rosalind loved the city she saw before her. Like some epiphany, the feeling invaded her at once, so potent that she might choke on it. She could push it down. She could turn away and pretend it was something else. Yet still the love existed, ever patient.

All her love seemed to emerge in an identical manner. It wasn’t that it would be absent one day and then present the next. It would move in without her notice and get comfortable and conquer more and more space, and she wouldn’t even know that there was a new occupant in her heart until she started wondering where all this furniture had come from and love flashed its dazzling grin at her to say hello.

There was a dull ache behind Rosalind’s eyes when she turned away from the window, too overwhelmed to keep watching the scene outside. She needed a plan of action. She needed to fix this.

Because she had left him. She had told him that his life was hers, and then she left him.

Another knock sounded on the door. This time a nurse poked her head in.

“Lang Shalin?”

Rosalind would have to start getting used to this: her real name, in the open again. She nodded tiredly.

The nurse held out a slip of paper. “There was a telephone call for you while you were in surgery, so the caller left a message.”

Rosalind reached for the paper, her brow furrowing. Who would be calling her while she was in surgery? Her superiors would be on their way to debrief her in person. They hardly needed to leave a message first.

“Thank you,” Rosalind said. The paper crinkled under her hand, its edges brown, probably dampened with spilled tea and already dried in the time it took to reach her.

The nurse closed the door, leaving Rosalind to open the message and scan it over once, then twice.

Her grip tightened, putting wrinkles across the ink. It didn’t matter: the words had burned themselves into her mind instantly. Outside her window, the city carried on, tucking players of every faction into its various corners, all of whom were stirring, stirring, stirring to life for combat. In front of her, Rosalind’s sense of purpose unfurled like a newly paved path, drawing out her very next steps.

I can help you get him back.

Find me in Zhouzhuang.


“JM,” Rosalind said into the empty room. “Who the hell are you?”


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