Raea caught up to Palan’s group. “I’m going with you,” she said. Palan turned around and frowned.
“Don’t you have angel stuff to do?” he asked. The group stopped moving. Raea recognized Tuic and his bull-headed demon.
“Like watching over my demon?” Raea asked and placed her hands on her hips. “Yes. I’m going too.”
“Fine,” Palan said. He really didn’t want her to know about his plans to free some demons, but he couldn’t see anyway to convince her to stay behind. The two-faced, four-armed demon raised an eyebrow at Palan, but he pretended not to notice. “Let’s go.”
“Lady Raea,” Tuic said from atop his demon. “Why don’t you accompany me on my mount?” The bull-headed demon’s eyes narrowed.
“No, I thi—“
“I insist,” Tuic said and smiled at her. “It wouldn’t do for such a fair maiden to travel by foot.” He rapped the back of the demon’s head with his knuckles. “Help her up.” The bull-headed demon’s nostrils flared, but it still lumbered forward and seized Raea before throwing her over its shoulder.
“No, seriously,” Raea said as she struggled. “I am completely fine walking by myself.” She shot a glance at Palan, but he wasn’t looking at her. Instead, he was floating—slithering?—alongside a female demon as the group entered the burnt forest. The fire could still be seen way off in the distance. They were heading towards a place where the fire had stopped.
Raea frowned and pursed her lips as Palan seemed to be communicating with the female demon. She had a humanoid body except for a scorpion-like tail and cat-like legs. “—d? … Are you listening?” Tuic asked. Raea turned her head and blinked at him. Evidently, he had been talking the whole time.
“Huh? Of course,” Raea said. “What was the question again? You were mumbling so it was quite difficult to understand.” Tuic cleared his throat, and Raea’s attention turned back towards Palan. Was he chuckling? He was definitely chuckling. How come he never laughed around her? Wait. Why was she even—.
“Hello?” Tuic asked again and waved his hand in front of Raea’s face. She glared at him. He froze and withdrew his hand. “Um, are you feeling well?”
“I’m fine. You really need to speak up,” Raea said and crossed her arms over her chest. She crossed her legs and angled her body away, letting her hair cover the side of her face.
“Well,” Tuic said and scratched his head. “How about you come up with a topic to talk about? You don’t seem very interested in questions about music.”
“Huh? I love music,” Raea said. Palan liked her music too. Her fingers itched to play her harp. She never really appreciated her mother forcing her to study music, but Raea was glad she did.
“Really,” Tuic said, his face expressionless. Raea was looking at Palan again. Tuic sighed and stopped talking, narrowing his eyes at Palan. He tried to convince himself. There was no way an angel would fall in love with a demon. She was just making sure he didn’t step out of line and embarrass her. That must be it.
Palan frowned and turned his head. Both Raea and Tuic were staring daggers at him. The bull-headed demon had a smirk on its face, as if it was laughing at Palan. His brow wrinkled before he turned back. “Something wrong?” the female demon next to him asked. She turned around and caught the two staring. She giggled and stepped closer to Palan while maintaining eye contact with Raea. “Your angel is surprisingly docile. Is she in love with you?”
“Don’t be stupid,” Palan said and snorted. “What about your angel? He doesn’t seem to be too overbearing.” He glanced at the fully armored angel marching next to Tuic’s demon.
“He’s a bit slow,” the female demon said. “Ridiculously strong but not in the head.” The demon licked her lips. “Your angel looks so angry at me. It’s cute. Did you not want to torture her because of your feelings for her? That’s so swee—“
Palan grabbed her by her neck and lifted her body into the air. Her tail flashed through the air, but Palan grabbed it with his free hand. “If I can kill angels, I can kill demons,” he said and tossed her down. “Don’t provoke me.”
“Whew,” the female demon said and frowned as she climbed to her feet and dusted herself off. “Tough guy, aren’t you?” She glanced at Raea. The angel’s previous gloomy expression seemed brighter now. The demon grumbled before wandering off to the two-faced, four-armed demon’s side.
“That was your own fault,” the two-faced demon said.
“I actually have four hearts.”
“And no fun.”
The two-faced demon grunted in reply, causing the female demon to sigh. “When do you think he’s going to start?” she asked. “Two years is quite a long time to be a slave.”
“There needs to be a diversion.”
“Like that?” the female demon asked and pointed at a ridge up ahead. Dozens of centaurs stood with battleaxes in their hands. A centaur with a staff that had a glowing orb on it blew on a horn. The centaurs charged forward while shouting.
Tuic slid off of his demon. “The general was right,” he said. “Solra’s trying to wait out our supplies. Alright, men! Kill them all! They think they can stop us when we have our powers?” The four accompanying angels’ expressions were grim as they equipped their lances. “If they want to stop us from hunting, then we’ll feast on centaurs tonight!”
“That’s a bit … gross,” Raea said with a pale face. Tuic’s demon shrugged her off and charged ahead of the group, roaring at the approaching centaurs. The demon passed by Palan who whispered something into its ear. It paused for a brief moment before continuing its charge with gleaming eyes.
Palan weaved backwards, heading towards Raea while speaking short messages to the demons. The angels paid no attention to them as they readied their powers for the inevitable clash. “Why don’t you go join the fight?” Palan asked Raea as she equipped her halberd.
“You know I don’t like killing,” Raea said and furrowed her brow.
“It’ll be fine. Don’t die,” Palan said and wrapped his hands around Raea’s waist. She screamed as he tossed her towards the oncoming centaurs. Palan licked his lips. He had a feeling there would be an ambush against a hunting party. It was something he would do: Weaken the prey. Starve the prey. Hunt the prey from behind. A hundred centaurs was a bit excessive though. He’d have to remove a few before he could start freeing the demons.