“I knew angels from the capital were distant,” Justitia said and swung her legs over the side of the storage chest, “but I guess I didn’t realize the extent of how cut off from the rest of the world you really were.”
“I think I’m starting to realize a bit of it myself,” Raea said and sighed as she sat next to Justitia. “But is it really the capital that is cut off from the world or is it the world that is cut off from the capital?”
“I’m just a soldier,” Justitia said and shrugged. “My opinion doesn’t hold any sway over anything.”
“But if you became a general…,” Raea said.
“Impossible. Every general comes from the capital. That’s just how things work,” Justitia said and glanced at Michael and Elrith. They were marching right behind the demons with sharp senses of smell. Elrith raised his arm, and the army came to a halt. The halflings in front of them shambled forwards into the forest.
Moments later, a goblin limped back and reported signs of a campsite in the distance. Elrith nodded and raised his arm again, causing the army to go into motion. They headed in the direction the goblin pointed out and arrived at a massive clearing. “What the hell?” Michael asked as he squinted. “Was this always empty?”
The land in front of them was void of trees and foliage. A cluster of shoddy buildings could be seen in the center of the land. It was as if the rebel army was inspired by Elrith’s actions and removed the trees in their surrounding vicinity as well. “There’s only four buildings. And they don’t even have walls,” Michael said. “This is clearly a trap.” Elrith nodded and ordered the glassy-eyed halflings to advance. They stumbled forward in a triangular formation towards the buildings, weaponless and crippled.
“Solra’s power can cancel my hold over them,” Michael said as he watched the halflings’ figures shrink as they went further and further away.
“I know,” Elrith said. “No need to point out the obvious. Who’s in charge here?”
“Last time I checked, it was both of us,” Michael said and snorted. “But now isn’t the time to bicker.” His expression hardened as the halflings arrived at the four buildings. Their eyes cleared up, and they blinked while looking around, as if confused to where they were. A group of lizardmen stepped outside of one of the buildings and welcomed the group inside, causing Elrith’s expression to light up.
“So Solra is in there,” he said and retrieved his shield from his back.
“You’re not going to throw a rock at them again?” Michael asked and raised an eyebrow.
“I can’t do that too often,” Elrith said, “at least, not if I want to be in top shape when I lead the charge.” He turned around and swept his eyes over the army, noticing Raea’s group sitting on top of a storage chest. He didn’t seem to mind. “Alright, listen up people. We are going—“
Michael tackled Elrith, bringing him to the ground. A stream of black flames flew over their heads towards the army, coming out of an orb that was out of sight in a nearby tree. Elrith’s eyes widened, and he stretched his hand out, using his powers of charity. The black flames flickered and dispersed but not before setting a few of the nearby trees and foliage on fire. “Damnit,” Elrith growled as Michael climbed off of him. “How are they attacking from this far away?” He turned his heads towards the soldiers. “Move! Into the clearing before we all burn down.”
The fire spread rapidly as if oil had been poured along the ground ahead of time. The demons had smelled it, but their only orders were to report if they caught any scent of angels. The army charged into the clearing, and Palan and company were nearly knocked off of the storage chest as the elephants stampeded out of the forest. “What’s going on?” Raea asked as the forest behind them crackled. The flames were up to the treetops and continuing to spread along the perimeter of the clearing. If they wanted to leave, they’d have to travel through the flames first.
“They’re trapping us,” Palan said and frowned. The heat coming from the forest reminded him of Eljiam during noon. He looked towards the shoddy buildings at the center of the clearing and pointed. “What are those?” Spindly towers could be seen rising out of the ground.
“Trebuchets,” Raea said. Her face paled as she recalled the previous attack on the outpost. A rock whistled through the air towards the army. Before it could reach the soldiers, it bounced off of a wall of wind. Michael stood in the air with his arms across his chest.
“Can we win?” Palan asked as a group of nearly a thousand centaurs appeared from out of the ground with battleaxes in their hands. Their weapons were taller than they were. Lizardmen stood on their backs with bows in their hands and quivers around their waists. Palan looked at Elrith whose face was twisted into a grimace.
Elrith muttered to himself as he looked up at Michael. The Stormbringer was busy shielding the army from the constant rain of boulders. “I really hate dwarves,” Elrith said to himself and stared at the ground. “If that’s the case…” He slammed his shield against the earth, causing a tremor to radiate outwards with his body as the epicenter. The ground shook and cracks formed, but before the quake reached the buildings, the shaking stopped. “Goddamn Solra.”
The blaze behind them roared even louder as the flames continued to travel deeper into the forest. “Forward!” Elrith shouted. It was too late to retreat, and the flames had already encircled half of the clearing. By the time they made it to the other side, the flames would’ve spread there as well. “We’re stronger than them! We’re more disciplined than them! There’s no way we’re going to lose to a bunch of halflings even if they outnumber us!”