Palan’s vision focused on the brown ceiling above him. His eyes flickered, and he saw an armored figure in the corner of his eye, standing with its back to him in front of a door. He tried to turn his head, but found that he couldn’t. His forehead, neck, chest, arms, and legs were restrained by metal chains.
“He is still unconscious?” a feminine voice asked.
“It seems like it.” The armored figure’s back rustled. “It can be hard to tell because his eyes are always open.”
“You can take a break,” the feminine voice said. “I will watch over him.”
Palan refocused his eyes on the ceiling and steadied his breathing. The armored figure stepped out of the room and an angel with short white hair sat on a seat next to the bed he was strapped to. A wolf barked from somewhere at the foot of his bed and chains rattled. The angel extended her hand and waved it over Palan’s face.
The angel sighed and sat back against her chair when she got no reaction. She pulled out a silver orb from a sack underneath her robe. “Please hurry and wake up,” the angel said and sighed as she traced her fingers along the orb. “There are so many things I want to ask you.”
The angel stiffened and dropped the orb while sitting up straight in her seat. Her heart rate increased as she bent over and retrieved the fallen sphere. She exhaled. “That was unexpected.”
“Sorry about the chains,” the angel said and pocketed the orb. “My subordinates were afraid that you would be belligerent. My name is Raea.”
Palan stayed silent as Raea stared at him, waiting for his response. Raea tilted her head. “Are the chains on too tight?” she asked and leaned forward. She freed Palan’s forehead and neck. “What is your name?”
Palan turned his head to face Raea, gazing into her blue eyes. “Are you going to kill me?”
Raea frowned. “No,” she said. “I—”
“No,” Raea said as her brow furrowed. “I—”
“Then what do you want?”
“I just want to ask you a few questions,” Raea said and crossed her legs.
“And if I refuse to answer?”
Raea scratched her nose. “I did not think that far ahead. I would appreciate it if you chose to cooperate.”
Palan sighed and rolled his head back to face the ceiling. “You saved me back then, right?”
“I’ll answer your questions, but only if you answer mine as well.”
Raea smiled. “Alright,” she said and nodded. “What is your name?”
“Palan. Where am I?”
“You are in the town’s prison. Captain Ishim insisted on keeping you restrained until we found out more about you,” Raea said. “Why were you fighting the king of the forest?”
“King of the forest?”
“The black and white beast.”
“Oh,” Palan said and nodded. “It looked at me funny. Do you know who—”
“Wait,” Raea said and stuck her hand out in front of Palan’s face. “You fought the king of the forest because it looked at you funny?”
Palan frowned. “Yes. It looked at me funny so I stabbed it.”
“Is your sin stupidity?”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m going to stop answering your questions.”
“Sorry, sorry,” Raea said and shook her head. “I was just startled. Forgive me.”
“Whatever,” Palan said and snorted before falling silent. Raea squeezed the hem of her robe.
“Um,” Raea said and tilted her head. “It is your turn to ask a question.”
Palan continued to stare at the ceiling. Raea frowned.
“Is it dead?” Palan asked. “The king of the forest.”
Raea nodded. “It is. Why?”
Palan gnashed his teeth together and spat out a bloody tooth. “That was the first time I lost a fight in eight years,” he said. “And now I can’t even get revenge.” Veins bulged on his arms and legs as he strained against his fetters. The metal creaked, but didn’t give. Palan’s body relaxed and he exhaled before laughing. “Can’t even vent properly. Fu—”
The door to the cell swung open. Raea stood up and turned around. “Captain Ishim,” she said and dipped her head downwards by a fraction. “What are you here for?”
A figure dressed in blue armor stepped through the door with two guards in tow. “The demon is awake?” Ishim asked as he unsheathed a baton from his waist. “Good. I could use another servant.”
Raea bit her lip and stepped to the side, obscuring Palan’s face from Ishim’s view. She asked, “What are you going to do?”
“Oh?” Ishim asked and raised an eyebrow. “Step aside. What I do with my prisoner is none of your concern.”
“He is not your prisoner,” Raea said and placed her hands on her hips. “I brought him here as a guest. He risked his life to fight against the king of the forest.”
“A demon as a guest?” Ishim asked and smiled. “Then who is his contractor?”
“Go eat a cactus,” Palan said and spat a tooth over Raea. It landed on Ishim’s armor, leaving a splash of black blood on his chestplate. “I’d rather make love to a lemon than become your servant.”
Ishim glanced down at his armor and frowned. His grip tightened on his baton as he stepped forward. He knocked Raea away with the back of his hand and slammed the baton down on Palan’s chest. The wolf at the foot of the bed barked and chains jangled while its claws scratched against the stone floor. Palan gritted his teeth and grunted before laughing. “You think that hurt? My little sister can hit harder than that.”
“Then try this,” Ishim said and snarled. He swung the baton towards Palan’s face. Palan smirked and opened his mouth, catching the baton with his teeth. He crunched down with his jaw, biting through the wood like butter. He spat the wooden remnants into Ishim’s face and grinned.
Ishim wiped away the splinters with the back of his hand. He chuckled while gritting his teeth. “So you want to play that way?” he asked and brought his hands together. His knuckles cracked as red fire surged out of his eyes, snaking down his body. He raised his right hand, that was surrounded by a ball of flames, into the air above Palan’s stomach.
“Stop!” Raea yelled as she gritted her teeth and tackled Ishim with her shoulder. Her robe caught fire the moment it made contact with Ishim’s body. She stripped it off, revealing a cloth tank top with shorts and a leather pouch around her waist. She glared at Ishim who was now-lying on his side on the stone floor.
Ishim slammed his fist against the ground and stood up. The red flames encircling him turned black. He narrowed his eyes at Raea. “What do you think you’re doing? The punishment for assaulting a superior is death.”
“I will report this to my father if you continue to use those flames,” Raea said and shivered. “An angel should not call upon the power of wrath.”
Ishim paused and glowered at her. “You wouldn’t dare.”
Raea crossed her arms over her chest.
Ishim glared at Raea. She glared back. Ishim snorted and the black flames around his body dispersed. “I won’t forget this, Lady Raea” he said and sneered as he stepped past his guards and exited the cell without a backwards glance. One of the guards eyed Raea’s underdressed body before he smirked and left.
“Creep,” Raea said as the door closed shut. She sighed and collapsed onto her chair. Palan turned his head towards her and frowned.
“Why did you help me?”
Raea furrowed her brow. She shook her head. “I wanted to. There was no other reason,” she said. She glanced at his chest. “Are you alright?”
“I wasn’t lying when I said my sister hits harder than him,” Palan said as he rolled his head back to face the ceiling. He sighed. “I wonder how she’s doing.”
Raea leaned over and propped her elbows on Palan’s bed. She rested her head on her palms. “Tell me about her.”
“Don’t you have better things to do?” Palan asked.
“Nope. I saved you,” Raea said. “You owe me a story.”
“Maybe, but you will tell me a story; I have a feeling,” Raea said and smiled. “Your sin is pride, correct?”
Palan grunted. “Fine,” he said and sighed. “I’ll tell you about her. It’s not like I can do anything else.”