“Help with what?” Palan asked and snorted. “Although … Raea does need to learn how to take care of herself. Her halberd skills are mediocre at best.”
“So that’s a yes?” Cleo asked. “I’ll have to charge double the payment for two people.” She nodded and was promptly thrown off of Palan’s back. Her cheeks puffed up. “I was joking,” she said and lowered her voice. “Just one-point-five times.”
“Who do you think you’re extorting here?” Palan asked and picked Cleo up by her tail. “It’s fine if you steal from other people but not from me.” He retrieved the pouch that Cleo nabbed earlier. Palan carried the squirming Cleo all the way back to Raea’s room. Elrith was sitting outside, leaning his back on the wall next to the door.
“She’s sleeping,” Elrith said, eyeing Palan and Cleo. Cleo quieted down and hung upside-down in the air with her body limp.
Palan dropped Cleo and proceeded to the door. Elrith stuck his leg out, preventing the door from opening, and glared at the demon. “Didn’t you hear what I said?” he asked.
Palan raised his leg into the air, maintaining eye contact with Elrith. He stomped his foot downwards, aiming for Elrith’s knee. The archangel’s eyes widened as he retracted his leg and stood up, reaching for the towershield that was propped up on the wall beside him. Palan’s foot left a web of cracks on the floor. He smirked at Elrith and pushed the door open, ignoring the angel when he shouted, “Stop!”
“You’re not sleeping at all,” Palan said, staring at Raea who was in the middle of changing her clothes. Cleo wandered into the room and closed the door behind herself, making sure to turn the doorknob so it didn’t make a sound.
“Who said I was?” Raea asked as she rummaged through her closet and pulled on a robe. A damp towel lay in the corner of the room along with the robe she wore earlier in the day.
“Your brother,” Cleo said and pointed at the door. “I think he’s having a moral dilemma.” The doorknob turned, and Cleo smiled before saying, “Don’t come in! She’s changing her clothes!” The doorknob returned to its normal state, and the sound of a fist hitting a wooden wall reached the trio’s ears. Cleo laughed. “See?”
Raea stared at Cleo with a wry smile on her lips. “It’s not good to lie,” she said.
“He started it,” Cleo said and humphed while crossing her arms over her chest and lifting her chin while closing her eyes. After two seconds she opened one eye. “Did I do it right? It’s my Palan imitation.”
Raea brought her hand to her mouth and laughed. Palan reached out and pulled Raea’s sleeve down, revealing the line of black scales on her arm. He ran his fingers over them, causing Raea to jump away from him while shuddering. “What are those?” Palan asked.
Cleo frowned and stamped her feet. “I just got her to smile,” she said. “Why’d you have to go and ruin it?”
Raea bit her lower lip and clutched her right wrist with her left hand. “I don’t know,” she said and looked down. Palan nodded while Cleo stepped on his foot.
“Now how am I supposed to ask her?” Cleo asked Palan and bopped Danger Noodle on the nose when it approached her. The door partially opened, and Cleo flew through the air, dropkicking it shut. “She’s still changing!”
“Don’t you think Cleo’s been acting weird lately?” Raea asked Palan while watching Cleo shake her fist at the door. The orange lizardman turned around and glared at Raea.
“Nope,” Palan said and shrugged. “I don’t really pay attention to her.”
“Do you want my help or not!?” Cleo asked, standing akimbo with her tail swishing and leaving marks on the wooden floor.
“What is she talking about?” Raea asked Palan, turning her head away from Cleo.
“Ask me, not that blockhead!” Cleo said and waddled over, her hands still on her hips. “Starting from tomorrow, I’m going to train both of you in lizardmen combat techniques. Be grateful.” She humphed. Moments later she doubled over and clutched her stomach. “I don’t feel so good.” She groaned as she stumbled over to Raea’s bed and buried herself under the covers.
Raea furrowed her brow and asked, “Do you want me to heal you?”
“Don’t touch me,” Cleo said as she gathered the blankets around herself, morphing into a wooly blob on the edge of the bed. “Wake me up when the first sun rises.” Raea stared at her bare sheets before walking over to Palan’s bed and lifting his blankets, dragging them back to her bed.
“I’m exhausted,” Raea said as she yawned and lay down on her bed, covering herself with Palan’s blankets. Palan climbed onto the bed and sat down next to Cleo, using her as a foot warmer. Minutes later, Raea began to snore.
There was a knock on the door. “Raea?” Elrith’s voice asked.
“She’s sleeping,” Palan said. The door opened anyway and Elrith walked inside. He frowned when he saw Raea’s head on her pillow with her eyes closed.
He narrowed his eyes at Palan and whispered, “What do you think you’re doing on my sister’s bed?”
Palan raised his hand and stuck his middle finger at Elrith. “Go away,” he said. “You’ll wake her up.”
Elrith trembled as he clenched his hands and gritted his teeth. A vein bulged on his forehead. He narrowed his eyes at Palan and said in a low voice, “You and I are going to have a talk tomorrow.”
Palan snorted and crossed his arms over his chest, lifting his head into the air, copying Cleo’s actions from before. It was a shame he couldn’t close his eyes. Elrith whirled around and left the room. He was about to slam the door behind himself but stopped at the last second, shutting it without making a sound.
A warm and slimy object touched Palan’s foot. He frowned and tilted the Cleo-blob upwards, reaching underneath. He picked up a wet, brown object with speckles. Palan raised an eyebrow as a moan—followed by snores—escaped from the woolen blob by his feet. Did Cleo lay an egg? Palan shrugged and placed the egg to the side. He concluded that lizardmen were weird before crossing his arms over his chest and lowering his head.