A booming noise echoed through the camp, and a few angels let out shouts. Elrith released Raea’s hand and turned around. He saw a wisp of smoke streaming out of the entrance to the tunnels and a row of cannons pointed at the camp. A group of goblins were holding burning torches and lowered the flames to the cannons. More booming echoes resounded as cannonballs flew towards the angels. The majority of the cannonballs missed, but a couple landed in the camps, crushing a few unlucky people.
“What the hell is that?” Michael asked as he and Elrith sprinted towards the head of the army. Raea was instantly forgotten as she stood there with her mouth open, gazing at the wounded angels. She wanted to help them, but she knew she couldn’t use her healing abilities. Palan slid off the storage chest and stood beside her, frowning at the cannons in the distance.
“What are those?” he asked. Raea shook her head in reply. Another salvo of cannon fire rained down on the army. Elrith had them spread out their formations to avoid being struck.
Elrith glanced at Michael. “What do we do, old man?” he shouted. “You’re more experienced than I am.”
“Now you acknowledge that!?” Michael shouted back. He knew Elrith didn’t want to take the blame if something went wrong, but that was fine. Michael was planning on retiring soon. “Retreat! Everyone fall back!” The angels picked up their dead and fell back towards the burnt trees in the distance, the demons shielding them from cannonballs. The goblins jeered and made a commotion at the cannons as the angels retreated.
Cleo, Palan, and Raea were the first ones to reach the trees, riding on the storage chest as the elephant pulled it away. “Your army sucks,” Palan said to Raea.
“It’s not my army,” Raea said and pursed her lips. “And they do not suck. The goblins just brought out something we’ve never seen before.”
The rest of the army caught up, and Raea climbed down from the storage chest. They had left the zone of charity and the injured could be tended to. Raea pushed her way through towards the section of the army where the wounded were gathered. Her face paled and a lump formed in her throat. Dozens of angels lay on the ground with missing limbs. A few of the angels were clearly already dead but had been carried out anyway.
The other angels of kindness were working on the angels with the serious injuries. Raea saw Carmella sitting on the ground with a blackened eye. She half-jogged half-walked towards the injured angel and squatted in front of her. “Are you alright?” Raea asked.
“Yeah,” Carmella said. “I’m fine. Gerome though.” She bit her lip and glanced at Gerome who was lying next to her. One of his legs were missing, and an angel was hovering over him with a white glow in her hands.
“I’ll take care of your eye,” Raea said as her hands glowed white. She placed it on her friend’s shoulder. “Where’s Owen?”
“I saw him walking around earlier,” Carmella said. The lump around her face began to shrink and turn from black to red. “He’s fine.”
“Did you get hit by one of those projectiles?” Raea asked. “I’m surprised it only gave you a black eye.”
“No,” Carmella said. “I was hit in the face by Gerome’s leg after it was blown off. And that guy said he’d never hurt me. What a liar.” Raea paled and bit her lip. Carmella frowned. “It was a joke. The part about never hurting me, not the leg part. That happened.”
“Well, at least you’re well enough to joke around,” Raea said and sighed as she withdrew her hand. Carmella’s face had returned to normal. Raea stood up, but fell over when the ground started to tremble. Walls of earth rose out of the ground, slanting away from them with staircases forming alongside them. Raea raised her head and stared blankly at the walls that were still growing. Palan appeared by her side.
“I suppose that’s your brother’s doing,” Palan said. Spikes began to grow out of the tops of the walls. He guessed there were more spikes on the other side of the wall judging by the rumbling noise. Raea glanced to the side and saw Elrith standing on top of a pillar of earth at the center of the camp, his arms raised and eyes closed. “And now I know how you angels never lost. This just isn’t fair at all.” The rumbling stopped. Elrith had created a fortified fortress in less than ten minutes.
Parts of the pillar that Elrith was standing on fell away as a spiral staircase was formed. The top of the pillar ballooned outwards to form a platform. Elrith walked down the staircase of the makeshift watchtower and crossed his arms over his chest. His brow was covered in perspiration. He said three words, “Set up camp.” He marched past the army and ordered a goblin slave to prepare a tent. A tremor ran through his legs, but he bit the inside of his mouth to suppress it. The soldiers began to go to the storage chests to lay down their own tents. After the goblin finished, Elrith went inside and, once he was out of view, promptly collapsed onto the floor.
Michael opened the flap to Elrith’s tent but closed it after he saw the young general’s condition. He sighed as he made a lizardman fetch him a pigeon and supplies to write a letter. Inside his designated tent, he lay on his back and stared at the ceiling. The pigeon cooed in his ear, causing him to sit up. He picked up a piece of charcoal and began to write. He wrote about Raea’s contribution to finding out about the dwarves, leaving out some details about his lack of common sense, and the new invention that seemed like an improved version of a trebuchet that could target individuals. He wrote about the current situation of the army and asked for further orders before sealing the letter with wax and tying it to the pigeon’s leg. He opened the tent flap and the pigeon flew out. Michael sighed as the second sun began to set. He watched the soldiers bantering and eating alongside each other. A few were grieving, picking at their food. He felt old.