Elrith snorted once he heard Palan’s words, but sent a squad of soldiers into the tunnels anyway. Michael came over to Elrith’s side. “I really do not think this is going to work,” the bald man said. “What soldier would willingly give up information on their army? I can’t use my powers to interrogate them like before.”
“They don’t do it willingly,” Palan said. “You torture them. How the hell did angels come to be the rulers of this land if you can’t even do something as simple as that?”
“Well, it was really due to Khondra’s invention of the orbs,” Justitia said. No one knew when she arrived by their group except for Palan. “That’s when our race started rapidly expanding. We no longer needed an archangel to watch over a captured camp, any soldier with the orb could do it.”
“So when your powers are gone, you become completely worthless,” Palan said. “Shouldn’t you have lost a long time ago?”
“Against what?” Justitia asked in return. “It’s very rare for a halfling to develop powers. How could they hope to cancel out an archangel’s abilities?”
Palan shrugged. “Other angels? Like now?”
“We don’t fight amongst ourselves. The first time was a decade ago when The Sinners launched their attack,” Justitia said and sighed. “Apparently the losses were extreme because no one was expecting it to happen.”
“You’re not going to order her to stand back in formation?” Michael asked Elrith.
“She’s your soldier,” Elrith said as he recalled Raea’s words about Justitia being her friend. “I thought being relaxed and carefree was standard for your army.”
Michael snorted. “Are we really going to start arguing right now?” he asked. “We are supposed to be working together.” Moments later, bustling near the front of the army caught their attention, and they turned their heads to see a group of angels carrying a hobgoblin. It was spewing profanities while squirming in the angels’ grasps.
“Do you want to show us how it’s done?” Elrith asked Palan as the angels forced the goblin to kneel in front of the generals.
“That’ll cost you extra,” Palan said, making no move to step forward. “You just asked for an idea. Don’t forget to promote Raea once you’re done.”
“Are you sure he’s a pride demon and not a greed one?” Michael asked Raea.
Elrith’s eyes widened. He spoke before Raea could open her mouth. “He’s a pride demon? What the hell?”
“You … didn’t know?” Raea asked and furrowed her brow.
“No one ever told me,” Elrith said. “Dad just said you contracted a demon.”
“You said you wanted what’s best for me, and you didn’t even know Palan was a pride demon?” Raea asked. Her hands clenched by her side.
“To be fair, I was more worried about how to change you back,” Elrith said. “A demon is a demon. They can all be dealt with in the same manner.”
“I can’t believe you,” Raea said. “I—ugh, never mind. You wouldn’t get it.” She exhaled audibly through her nose and turned around, pulling Palan with her. He frowned but followed after her.
“You’re not going to stop her, General?” Justitia asked Elrith.
Elrith shook his head. “When she’s free of him, she’ll understand what I was trying to do for her,” he said. “There are more pressing matters to deal with.” He turned his gaze toward the kneeling goblin. “I don’t approve of torture, but I’m willing to if it brings peace to the capital.”
The goblin growled at Elrith and tried to spit in his face, but he was hit over the back of the head by one of the angels holding him down. Justitia wrinkled her nose and left the scene, following after Palan and Raea. She walked behind them and climbed up a storage chest after them. “You really like sitting up here, huh?” she asked as a wry smile appeared on her lips.
“Cleo picked it,” Raea said and sighed as she lay down and stared up at the sky. “She likes being around storage chests, I guess.” Cleo smiled, her pointed teeth glinting in the sun.
“You know your brother is a bit of an ass?” Justitia asked.
“Just a bit?” Raea asked. “He only cares about my health. He doesn’t care about how I feel at all. I think he’d lock me up in a tower and say it was for my own good if he could.”
Justitia chuckled. “He just doesn’t want to see you get hurt,” she said. “But I understand how you feel. My parents kept pushing me to be charitable and chaste. You can see how that turned out.”
“You’re not chaste?” Raea asked. Her face turned a deeper shade of red as she looked at Palan. He was watching Elrith and Michael interrogate the goblin.
“Hey,” Justitia said. “This is supposed to be about you, not me. I—“
“I’m chaste!” Raea said.
Justitia blinked. “I, uh, never said you weren’t,” she said. Raea lowered her head and bit her lip. After a moment of silence, Justitia spoke up, “You just seemed to resemble me a bit when I was younger. My parents didn’t want me to join the army, but here I am. I haven’t seen them in years, but I don’t really miss them too much. It’s funny how everything works out in the end.”
“You think everything will be fine?” Raea asked and raised her head. Justitia smiled.
“Stop!” Cleo said to Justitia before she could speak. “Don’t jinx her by saying something like ‘I know so’ or ‘of course.’”
“Alright, Cleo the Magnificent,” Justitia said and laughed. “I won’t. Take care of yourself Raea. I can feel General Michael sending glares my way, so I better be off now.”
“Thank you,” Raea said.
“Anytime,” Justitia said as she climbed off the storage chest. She turned her head towards Palan and opened her mouth. After a moment of hesitation she closed it again.
“Hey,” Palan said when Justitia reached the ground. “Ask them why they didn’t just walk outside of the zone of charity and use Michael’s powers to obtain the information. Isn’t that what they did last time?”
Justitia furrowed her brow. “If you knew they could do that, why didn’t you inform them?” she asked.
“I wanted to see the extent of their narrowmindedness,” Palan said. “It’s really interesting to watch. Like they’re constrained to a certain line of thinking and can’t make decisions for themselves.” He turned towards Raea. “Kind of like you.”
“What?” Raea asked. “I am not narrow-minded.” Palan grunted. She turned towards Cleo. “Am I?” The lizardman scratched her head and shrugged. Raea sighed.