Palan watched as Justitia walked over to Michael and Elrith. She spoke with them, and moments later, the two generals stared blankly at each other before leading the goblin towards the outer edge of the camp, away from Solra’s influence. “So they really didn’t think of it at all,” Palan said and snorted. Raea frowned as she walked over to his side to watch.
“Their creative problem solving skills are lacking,” Cleo said and tutted.
“I think we are just too dependent on our powers,” Raea said. “Angels used them for centuries. Having them suddenly taken away is like taking away our tongues and telling us to talk.”
“Aren’t there plenty of angels without powers?” Palan asked. “Like Gerome or Carmella. Or those common soldiers that were under Ishim’s command.”
“Well, yes,” Raea said and pursed her lips. “But you don’t see any of them in the capital.”
“Something’s seriously wrong with your heads,” Palan said. “There’s so much potential here, but you’re handicapping yourselves. I don’t get it. Maybe it’s because I’m from Eljiam where power means everything. If you can gather a hundred demons under your command, then you’d be unstoppable in Eljiam, but it’s near impossible to do that. And here you are in Div’Nya, throwing your people away.” He wrinkled his nose.
“I don’t think angels pursue power,” Raea said. “We are just following the wishes of the Creator. At least that’s how it’s portrayed in the books we have in the capital. Sadly, reality seems to be a lot different from what I expected it to be.”
“Your creator sounds like a terrible person,” Palan said. He recalled the unwanted changes made to his contract. “And a nosy asshole.”
“That’s blasphemy, you know?” Raea asked. “You could be executed for saying those words in public.”
“The hell?” Palan asked and furrowed his brow. He turned towards Cleo. “You’re witnessing this, right?”
Cleo scratched her head and shifted her lips to one side. “Hmm.” She stroked her chin. “Us lizardmen have a god too. Its name is Elbegon. We don’t really talk badly of it either.”
“Don’t the demons have gods too?” Raea asked. “I faintly recall reading or hearing about them in fairytales.”
“What’d they say?” Cleo asked.
“Well, the tale was mostly focused on the Creator and how he created our pure world. He banished the demon gods and created a separate world for them, which is why we don’t have any sins,” Raea said and looked down. “Some of us, at least.”
“When in reality, the reason no one sinned was because they executed the sinners or exiled them from the capital,” Palan said. “Does that about sum it up?”
“Yes. Yes, it does,” Raea said. Her lips were pressed together in a tight smile. “I thought about it a lot during the days leading up to my trial. I still think about it a lot now.” Her voice quavered, and she took a deep breath. “Am I the imperfect one for having sins? But didn’t the Creator make me who I am? Is the Creator the imperfect one? I—“
“Blasphemy!” Cleo said and quickly covered her mouth. “Sorry, I couldn’t help it.”
Raea knit her brow. “Oh, it looks like Elly’s done,” she said and sniffed. She turned towards Palan. “I still can’t believe he didn’t know you were a pride demon.”
Palan shrugged. “I didn’t use my powers while fighting him,” he said. “The less information you provide about yourself, the safer you’ll be.” He glanced at Raea. “You should keep that in mind. Withholding information shouldn’t really count as lying.”
“But if I my withholding of information purposely leads them to a false conclusion, it still counts as deceit,” Raea said.
“Then just keep your mouth shut,” Palan said and snorted. He grunted as Elrith and Michael began walking towards the storage chest. The army was beginning to set up their camp again. “Well?” Palan asked when the two generals arrived.
“It worked,” Elrith said and crossed his arms over his chest. “I’ll be sure to attribute the findings to Raea so she can be promoted.” He glanced at his sister. She had turned around and was sitting with her back towards the two generals. Elrith sighed. “I’m sure this will make Mom and Dad happy, Ray. You know it took me close to a year for my first promotion. There’ll be another general from the Caelums before you know it.”
“And now I understand why the army is so incompetent,” Palan said to Cleo.
Cleo grunted. “Imagine Raea as a general. She’d be too nice,” she said and placed her claw on Raea’s shoulder.
“I’m being insulted and complimented at the same time,” Raea said and buried her head in her hands. “Why do you two always do this to me?” She sighed.
“That’s what friends are for,” Cleo said and nodded. “We have to praise you, but at the same time, we have to keep your ego in check.”
“What about his ego?” Raea asked and pointed at Palan.
“Mm, well you see, some people are born specialer than others,” Cleo said and nodded. “Besides. He can eat me.”
“I don’t think specialer’s a word,” Raea said.
Cleo shrugged. “See why we have to keep your ego in check?”
“Did you hear what I said, Ray?” Elrith asked. Raea recalled Palan’s earlier words and stayed silent. “I’m sorry. I should have tried to be more accepting of your de … Palan instead of thinking of ways to remove him. I shouldn’t have sent that letter to Mom and Dad. I didn’t know what to do, but I had to do something because I’m your big brother. I realize now that I didn’t consider your feelings. Do you think you can forgive me?”
Raea blinked. Her eyes were hot. She turned around and peered over the edge of the storage chest to make eye contact with Elrith. “It’s not fair to ask an angel of patience if she can forgive you,” she said. “You already know”—she paused and sniffed—“what the answer is going to be.”
Danger Noodle snuck behind Raea and shoved her off the storage chest. She yelped as the platform disappeared from beneath her feet. Elrith’s eyes widened as he opened his arms, preparing to catch Raea. She landed in his embrace, causing them to both tumble to the ground. Elrith gasped as the wind was knocked out of him. “You’ve gotten a lot heavier since I last carried you,” he said and smiled. He glanced at Palan, but the demon suddenly seemed preoccupied with tickling the orange lizardman by his side. “I know I was wrong, Ray. You’re nearly an adult now, and it’s about time I started to treat you like one.”
Raea nodded and climbed off of Elrith. She dusted off her greaves. “I forgive you,” Raea said and extended her hand towards Elrith. He grabbed it and pulled himself up. The two smiled at each other.
A cannon went off.