Of course Ava leaves the monastery when the nation’s generals come for her. Staying would mean practicing attachment, something the 18th reincarnation of Avalo cannot do. Also, she is pretty sure they’ll kill the monks if she doesn’t.

She spends most of her time on television after that, feet dangling off the adult-sized chairs. In her free time she writes sermons but is never asked to read them. Instead, she smiles serenely into the camera while generals call her a Beacon of Hope in Battle, proving the gods are on their side. They won’t let her see the names of the fallen troops or have sharp objects, not even a razor. Her hair starts to grow back, soft as dandelions. Sometimes Ava is asked to pray that the other side will surrender.

In the end, the whole studio decamps to an aircraft carrier while mushroom clouds bloom on the coast for hours and hours.

“Listen,” says the president in the silent morning after. “It’s the sound of peace. Do you hear it?”

“Yes,” says Ava, telling the first lie of her life.

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