“So Justitia’s just a nickname?” Cleo asked. “I’m still Cleo the Magnificent though.”
“It is a nickname, but everyone calls me that,” Justitia said. She eyed Cleo and tilted her head. “I’ve never met a lizardman who didn’t mind speaking with angels. Maybe it’s because you’re still a child?”
Cleo puffed her cheeks out. “Who’s a child?” she said and stamped her feet. “I’ll have you know, I’m just a really small adult.” She wandered next to Justitia and crossed her arms over her chest.
“Is that so?” Justitia asked. “My apologies.” She sighed. “I used to live next to a lizardmen village. My mother never let me play with them, but I was free to watch. They were an interesting group.”
“What happened to them?” Cleo asked.
“Subjugated and relocated. They were occupying fertile grounds that the military had been eyeing,” Justitia said.
Cleo frowned while her tail swished and kicked up dirt on the ground. “So you joined the army to stop the injustice?” she asked.
Justitia blinked. “I’ve thought about it,” she said and pursed her lips, “but no. The army pays well; it’s the best profession a peasant can have. My parents used to live off the land. It was a much nicer and quieter life.” She exhaled and stared up at the suns in the sky and paused before turning her head towards Raea. “For a Caelum, you don’t look very angel-like.”
“I … things happened,” Raea said and bit her lower lip, “and now I look like this.”
“That’s a cheap explanation,” Justitia said and laughed. “I won’t press the issue if it bothers you.” She glanced at the halberd on Raea’s back. “Would you like to spar?”
“Prestige,” Justitia said and smiled as she stood up. “I have a bit of pride in my skills.” Cleo’s hands flashed near Justitia’s waist while the angel’s back was turned. Palan raised an eyebrow at her, but the orange lizardman just put a finger to her lips and put her hands behind her back after depositing an item into her bag. She smiled at Palan and waddled over to him.
Raea furrowed her brow. If it was a few weeks ago, she wouldn’t have even considered the duel. “Are we using powers?” she asked.
“No,” Justitia said. “Just technique. We shouldn’t exhaust our energy just for the sake of a spar. Even if the army won’t be moving for a few days, we never know when the rebels will attack.” She removed the lance from her back and twirled it in her hand. “So how about it?” Raea nodded and equipped her halberd. She took in a deep breath and steadied her gaze.
Palan crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back, balancing on his tail. He turned his head to the side and saw a demon in an alleyway, staring at him. The demon beckoned with his hand and turned around, disappearing into the shadows. Palan smirked and let Danger Noodle carry him towards the alley, away from Raea and Justitia who were just beginning to fight. Cleo tried to follow after him, but he glared at her, causing her to shrink back while pouting.
Palan wrinkled his nose and followed the scent of the demon as he made his way through the outpost, avoiding angels along the way. He arrived at a nondescript building and got off his tail, wrapping it around his torso like another layer of armor. He could see multiple blobs of red and yellow in the basement of the building with his heat vision. His eyes narrowed as he opened the door and slipped inside before making his way downstairs.
A group of demons sat in a circle, staring up at him as he made his way down the stairs. There were close to a dozen of them, and Palan unconsciously straightened his back as he stepped off the last stair. “You needed something?” he asked and crossed his arms over his chest. Goosebumps rose on the back of his neck as the demons pierced him with their gazes. He recognized the insect-like demon from the first time he went to the cafeteria.
“You can free us?” one demon asked. All the demons were sitting in a circle, but Palan had a feeling that this demon was the ringleader. The demon had four arms and on the back of his head was another fully functional face. The demons that had their backs towards Palan turned around to look at him.
“Depends,” Palan said. “What do you have to offer? You can’t expect me to work for free.”
The demons turned their head to look at their leader. “What do you want?” he asked in a deep voice. “All of us were well known in Eljiam. The ones who wish to go back can give you a life of luxury.”
“Not interested,” Palan said and shook his head. “I need competent demons to work under me.”
One of the demons laughed and smacked his own thigh. “You want to free us from the angels so we can be slaves under you?” he asked and licked his lips. His face was narrow and furry like a fox’s. He addressed the circle of demons. “Who said he wasn’t a stupidity demon?” The demons began to chatter.
“All of you are dissatisfied or you wouldn’t be here,” Palan said, cutting the din off before it could grow. “It’s clear that some people are happy with their situation or there would be more of you here. Maybe you aren’t being fed enough or not getting enough sleep. I don’t care what you do after I free you as long as you become my ally.”
The demons fell silent and looked at the leader. Both of the leader’s faces frowned. “What are you planning?” he asked.
“You’ll have to sign a contract if you want to know,” Palan said as he uncrossed his arms and pulled a yellow crystal out of his pouch. He didn’t know if he would be able to use these demons to help him kill Sariel, but it couldn’t hurt to have some allies. He was all alone in Div’Nya after all. Raea’s image flashed in his mind, but he dismissed it; she didn’t count.
The demon leader crossed three of his arms over his chest and used his remaining arm to stroke his chin. “We’ll have to work out the finer details,” he said. “Tell me. How will you free us? Many detrimental things will happen to some of us if our angels die.”
“Isn’t that simple?” Palan asked and snorted. “Torture them until they agree to dissolve the contract.”
The demon leader raised an eyebrow. “You can hurt angels?” he asked.
“I can kill angels,” Palan said and smiled.