I lie on the hard bench in my makeshift prison, trying to figure out how to get away. No idea. I'm a teacher, not some kind of James Bond. But tomorrow the soldiers will bring me down to the coast, and that will be the end of me - the KRG is infamous for its methods. I have to get out, but there is an armed guard outside the door, and likely another one watching the village street. I can't count on the villagers: they might be on my side but the guns are on the other side. Besides, if they helped me they might bring down harsh reprisal. Outside the village there is just jungle and swamps. I have no equipment, no food and no way to communicate. I'm trapped.

I must have fallen asleep despite the heat and worries; but something makes me snap awake. I listen, but it is quiet. Just the nightly insects and birds... and muffled noises from the outside. Then a sudden shout, and several shots just outside my door. What is happening?

Someone fumbles with the lock. I have nowhere to hide in the cramped cell, so I just watch. Suddenly the door bursts open and I see Sovann standing on the doorway, wielding one of the soldiers' rifles. On the floor one of them lies dead. Sovann urges me on. Numbed by shock and surprise I walk out. In the street the entire village greets me, cheering. The sergeant lies on the ground, throat slit; I note that at least one of the soldiers is standing cheering among the villagers.

Kragum embraces me, handing me a sari and my bag, filled with provisions.

"Go. We will continue your work here. We will spread the teachings, just as you have."

"But the soldiers?"

"We'll say that the rebels made a quick raid and freed you - it is after all not far from the truth."

The deserter smiles at me. He will of course support the story, no doubt with some boasts of his own bravery. And I'm sure Kragum, Sovann and Teva will make sure it completely believable. KRG will believe it, and rush off to kill the rebels with the 'foreign spy' instead of punishing the village.

"You have learned well, maybe even too well."

"As the Enlightened One said, 'work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others.'"

I bow, grateful and a little fearful of what I have started.

"You have indeed learned well."