“What’s wrong?” Cleo asked, tugging on Palan’s hand. He crouched near the edge of the storage chest and squinted his eyes. He couldn’t find the location of the smell—it seemed to permeate the whole area. There were too many angels and demons along with dying centaurs and lizardmen; his heat vision and electroreception had no effect in a crowd this large.
“Are goblins fireproof?” Palan asked. The forest around the clearing continued to burn.
“How would I know?” Cleo asked in return. “I never tried setting one on fire before.”
“Fair enough,” Palan said and looked over the battlefield. Justitia was part of the encirclement protecting the medics and supplies. Owen was fighting on the frontlines. His ragtag group of soldiers stuck out like a sore thumb. The centaurs were being slaughtered, but none of them retreated. Their attacks were desperate as if they wanted to kill at least one angel before they died. The lizardmen were the same, picking up the battleaxes and fighting with them after their steeds had fallen. The trebuchets continued to fire from behind the centaurs’ ranks. Their base was underneath the ground, obscuring their operators from view. A group of a dozen angels lay dead on the ground in front of the trebuchets, deterring others for the time being. Elrith had just broken through the centaurs’ formation, dividing their ranks even further. It was only a matter of time until all the centaurs died.
“I guess they’re hiding by the trebuchets then,” Palan said and sat down.
“Goblins?” Cleo asked and tilted her head. She peered towards the trebuchets and squinted. It was hard for her to see that far due to the wall of wind Michael had set up. Palan grunted. Cleo turned her head to face Palan. “You’re not going to warn them?”
“Not my problem,” Palan said and shrugged. “I’m sure they know. It smells worse than a dead lion’s rotting anus.”
Cleo wrinkled her nose. “What’s a lion?”
“It’s like a big wolf,” Palan said.
Palan looked over the edge of the storage chest and saw Raea down below. She was drinking a cup of water with herbs in it while waiting for her mana reserves to replete. He frowned and jumped off the chest, landing next to her. She flinched and nearly dropped her cup as the ground cracked beside her. Palan asked, “Aren’t you limited to the number of times you can heal a day?”
“Well, yes,” Raea said. “But that number seems to have increased recently.
“Can you still use patience?”
Raea pursed her lips. “I can … but I’d be exhausted,” she said as an angel approached the encirclement and walked over to Raea. Palan wrapped his arm around Raea’s waist, causing her to squeal. “What are you doing!?”
“I don’t plan on dying because of you,” Palan said. “I’m not going to let you become a burden because you exhausted your energy reserves.”
“Let me go,” Raea said and squirmed around, but Danger Noodle bound her legs together. “He needs medical attention.” She pointed at the approaching angel and lowered her head. “And this is really embarrassing.”
Palan glanced at the injured soldier. The soldier glared at him. “I need healing,” he said. “Do you want to be executed for treason, demon?”
“You walked here by yourself,” Palan said and snorted. “You seem just fine to me. Now piss off.” He covered Raea’s mouth with his free hand and climbed up the storage chest using only his feet. The injured soldier followed after him, but Cleo hit him over the head with a stick she pulled out of nowhere, causing the soldier to fall to the ground. The stick disappeared just as quickly as it appeared.
Raea ripped Palan’s hand off of her mouth. “You two!” she said and sighed. “Why am I friends with you again?”
“Because you love us,” Cleo said with a smile and clasped her hands together while blinking. Raea’s head drooped.
“Oh,” Palan said as he dropped Raea. “It looks like the centaurs are pretty much dead.” Thousands of corpses lay on the battlefield. The ground was damp and stained red with blood. The angels and demons finished off the remaining centaurs and pressed forwards towards the trebuchets. Palan couldn’t get a good count of the number of dead angels, but there were at least fifty armored corpses. Even though they had been outnumbered, their armor made all the difference in the battle. Adding on the fact that the soldiers could be healed and back again in around a minute, it seemed like a miracle for the halflings to have even killed that many. He wondered how different the battle would’ve turned out if the centaurs and lizardmen had similar equipment and healing capacities.
“It’s over?” Raea asked. She wrinkled her nose. “What’s that smell?”
“Probably goblins,” Palan said.
“I’m going to be sick,” Raea said while wincing. She pinched her nose and squatted. Her voice sounded nasally. “I’m so much more sensitive to smells now.”
Palan ignored the slightly green angel as he continued to watch the army. The trebuchets had stopped firing, but Michael remained in the air as a precaution. A cluster of green goblins swarmed out of the holes the trebuchets were in and attacked the group of angels with sticks. They were quickly repelled. A squadron of angels were about to give chase, but Elrith stopped them from advancing.
Elrith stood over the broken trebuchets with a frown on his face. They were in gently sloped pits with a system of tunnels leading underground. He tried using his powers of diligence, but Solra’s ability was still in effect. “We’re not chasing them?” a female soldier asked. She had seen her friend die by an unlucky strike to the slit between the cuirass and helmet.
“We don’t know what’s down there,” Elrith said. “Fall back and regroup. I don’t believe Solra can keep this up forever. As soon as he stops, this tunnel system is going down.” He snorted and led the army back, reforming their ranks in front of the tunnels. “Throw the dead centaurs and lizardmen inside. They can have them back.” The soldiers walked back and forth, tossing corpses into the tunnels as Elrith listened to a report about the damage done to the army. They had lost eighty angels and six demons.
“And we lost Colonel Uzziel,” the soldier who was reporting said. Elrith’s face was expressionless. The soldier raised an eyebrow. “You are not upset, General?”
“The army and death walk hand in hand,” Elrith said. “Is that all?” The soldier nodded and left. Elrith frowned. The name Uzziel sounded familiar, but he couldn’t place a face to the name. He shrugged and watched as his soldiers blocked off the tunnels with the corpses.