Elrith greeted the duo when they arrived. It had been two days since they set off. “Where’s Colonel Tuic?” he asked Palan after realizing no one else was coming back. He frowned when he saw the mangled centaur corpses behind them. “And the rest of the hunting squad?”
“There was an ambush waiting for us after we headed towards the only unburnt part of the forest,” Palan said. “The rest were taken except for one who died in the scuffle. Tuic told me to bring these back to eat.” He gestured towards the dead centaurs.
Elrith scowled and looked towards Raea. “Is this true?” he asked her. She raised her head and blinked. She saw Palan staring at her and quickly lowered her head again.
“Err, now that I think about it,” she mumbled, “Tuic did say something about eating centaurs.”
“Are you alright?” Elrith asked and frowned. “You don’t seem well. I was against you accompanying the hunting party.” He sighed and placed his hand on Raea’s shoulder. “Get some rest.”
Raea nodded while pursing her lips before speed walking towards a tent. Palan’s voice echoed in her ears, causing her to flinch. “I’ll go with her,” he said and appeared by Raea’s side. Elrith furrowed his brow as he watched the two walk away. Something seemed different about them, but he didn’t know what. He shrugged and tried to pull on the rope containing the centaur corpses, but the pile wouldn’t budge. He had to use his powers to transport them.
“What is this?” Michael asked. Elrith turned his head and saw the bald general approaching him.
“Breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the next month,” Elrith said with an expressionless face. He continued to walk forward with a platform of earth following behind him.
“You can’t be serious,” Michael said.
“Do you have a better idea?” Elrith asked
“We can send for supplies from the third sector,” Michael said and gestured broadly with his arm. “Or we can even ask General Akurel to bring his army as well.”
“And leave our lands defenseless?” Elrith asked while narrowing his eyes at Michael. “What if we’re attacked from the east?” He snorted. “We’re more than enough to handle this.”
“We don’t even know the full extent of their army,” Michael said. “We didn’t even know they had dwarves until a week ago!”
“Just because they have trebuchets doesn’t mean they have dwarves. If they had dwarves, why didn’t they just dig a tunnel underneath the checkpoint?”
Michael’s mouth dropped open. “This needs to be reported to the capital at once,” he said and whirled around. He sprinted away before Elrith could say anything to stop him. He furrowed his brow and shrugged as he continued to transport the centaurs. If he knew the army would have to eat halflings, he would’ve ordered them to smoke and salt the centaurs and lizardmen instead of using their bodies as a blockade.
A normal-sized centaur weighed close to five hundred kilograms. Four centaurs could feed the army for a day. Elrith paled and looked at the massive mound behind him; how did Palan manage to drag this back here by himself? It was then that he realized he knew nothing about Raea’s demon. He frowned and squinted at the tent Raea entered. It was the only bright-orange and pink tent in the whole camp. Cleo had set it up.
Raea bit her lip and hugged her shoulders as she sat on the floor with her back to the tent wall. Palan sat on her bed which was really just a blanket and pillow on the ground. Cleo blinked and glanced at Palan before glancing at Raea. Her head turned back and forth like a pendulum. Finally, after a minutes of silence, she opened her mouth. “Did something happen between you two?”
Palan chuckled. “You could say that,” he said and smirked. Raea didn’t say a word as she covered her face with her hands. The orange lizardman narrowed her eyes at the two. Her face lit up.
Cleo gasped. “You didn’t,” she said and stared at Palan with wide eyes. Palan only smiled in reply. Cleo tried to tug Raea’s hand away from her face but failed. “Did he? Did he really?” She didn’t reply. Cleo fell over backwards and blinked. She inhaled. “Calm down, Cleo,” she told herself, “you’re the adult here. Relax.” She exhaled and closed her eyes. Moments later, her eyes popped open, and she cheered “the eagle has landed!” before dashing out of the tent.
Seconds later, before the tent flap even closed, she wandered back inside. She seemed deflated. “I don’t have anyone I can tell,” she said and frowned. She crawled up Palan’s back. “So tell me, how did it happen? I want to know everything.”
“It didn’t happen!” Raea said and raised her head. “Nothing happened. Nothing, nothing, nothing!” She exhaled and buried her face back into her hands. Palan and Cleo stared at her.
“I can’t tell if she’s lying or not,” Cleo said and blinked. “But she never lies. Why are you two acting so suspicious?”
“Who’s acting suspicious?” Raea asked and glared at Cleo. “I’m being perfectly … Raea-like.” Her gaze fell onto Palan’s face and her voice trailed off. She inhaled and slapped her cheeks before staring at Palan with her arms across her chest. “S-see?”
Palan chuckled and stood up before walking closer to Raea. “Stop!” she said. Her body tingled as she pursed her lips and stuck her hands out in front of herself. Her arms trembled as she shut her eyes.
“Wow,” Cleo said from Palan’s back. “What did you do to her?”
“I’m not sure,” Palan said. “I need to find someone knowledgeable about lust demons before I can tell.”
“No!” Raea said. “I forbid you from doing so. Under no circumstances—”
“You can’t,” Palan said. “What if it costs me my life in the future because I didn’t know what I was going up against?” He smiled as Raea wrinkled her nose at him.
“It’s like you stepped on a cat’s tail,” Cleo said as she slid off of Palan’s back. “Should I leave so you two can kiss and make up?” She hid behind Palan’s back as Raea glared at her. “What? It was only a suggestion. Jeez.”