“Eh?” Madison looked around. “Pipa disappeared.” The ground beneath her was leveled by Michael’s strike. There were no trees in sight, just an empty brown plot of land. Behind her, the trees were piled up on top of each other, creating a semi-circular wall of dead plant life. Madison turned around to look at the harpies. “Where’d he go?”
The harpies exchanged glances, but none of them could answer. “Maybe he was blown away?”
Madison blinked a few times before yawning. “Oh wells,” she said and rubbed her eyes. “Let’s go find somewhere to sleep.” Her wings beat irregularly, and she wobbled through the air. Her hammer had taken a greater toll on her than she thought it would. Maybe she’d get the smelly old man to make her an orb like Solsol. She nodded to herself and ignored the harpies’ confused gazes as she warbled out a song about her feathers.
“Isn’t this about the time for Sally to suggest something?” one of the harpies whispered as they followed after Madison. The harpies looked around.
“Where’d she go?”
“Eh, doesn’t matter. No one liked her anyway.”
And the harpies went on their way, completely turning their backs on the wreckage Madison created. After they turned into small dots in the sky, the ground bulged and a purple arm erupted from the mound, followed by a dirt-covered face. Palan’s torso popped out of the earth and twisted around, his brow furrowed. He wondered if angels were the cause of sandstorms on Eljiam.
Madison was nowhere to be found, and he couldn’t sense any other harpies nearby so he crawled out of the ground. His tail was suspiciously larger than usual, as if it swallowed a harpy-sized piece of food. Palan tried to wrap the tail around his body, but it refused to cooperate, so he began walking towards the fortress with Danger Noodle dragging against the floor.
There were a few trees in front of the fortress that escaped Michael’s strike because it had expanded after passing them, but they were in rough shape. The fortress walls were completely pulverized, and the watchtower had fallen over. Palan heard lots of groaning, and mounds of earth fell apart as angels and demons crawled out of the ground. The giant, earthen hand Elrith had created to block the hammer had disintegrated and covered the army. Palan scratched his head and ignored the cries for help coming from the angels—the demons dug themselves out silently. He was still alive which meant Raea was still alive.
He tried sniffing the air to find her, but everything smelled like freshly-turned soil and blood. Lots of blood. He took in a deep breath and shouted, “Raea!” Through the wails of the angels, he thought he heard someone say his name. He headed towards where he heard the muffled cry.
“Palan!” Cleo said as he walked around a mound of earth. “Raea’s buried here! Help!” Her face was covered in dirt and smeared with tears. A few cuts along her body leaked blood. Palan looked at the ground and saw a leg sticking out from underneath a fallen wall. There were claw marks stained with blood near Raea’s leg where Cleo had tried to dig her out.
Palan frowned and hurried over to the exposed leg and grabbed the edge of the fallen wall. A black light enveloped the wall, and Palan raised his arm, tossing the wall aside as if it were made of feathers. Raea was lying facedown on the ground with her arms covering her head. Palan ground his teeth together and squatted next to Raea before placing his hand on her back. White tendrils of light snaked around Raea’s body, soaking into her skin. After a while, Raea stirred and rolled over, causing Palan’s hand to slide off her back and onto her belly. Her eyes were half-closed, and her breaths were long. “Raea?” Cleo asked and waved her hands in front of the angel’s face. “Are you alright?”
Raea blinked and began to cough. Being buried underneath a wall hadn’t done much good for her lungs. “Were you worried about me?” Raea asked and looked at Palan, placing her hand on top of his.
Palan snorted. “No,” he said. He was about to pull his hand away when a bolt of lightning came crashing out of the sky and struck him on the head. Raea let out a yelp as her belly began to tingle from the shock while Palan inhaled sharply and trembled.
“Liar!” Cleo said with a smile on her face. “You were worried!” She braced herself for the impending Danger Noodle attack, but it never came. She blinked and lowered her arms before wandering over to Palan’s tail. “Did you eat something with your butt?” Cleo asked and blinked at the suspicious harpy-shaped bulge in Palan’s tail. She pried opened Danger Noodle’s mouth.
“Light! I see light! Help me,” a feeble voice said.
Cleo’s eyes went wide as she promptly shut Danger Noodle’s mouth. Raea’s face blanched as she exchanged gazes with Cleo. Cleo turned around and cleared her throat. “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,” she said and nodded to herself. Her tail swished behind herself as she looked up at the sky, stroking an imaginary beard.
“Palan!” Raea shouted.
“I’m right here,” Palan said and cracked his neck. His arms twitched. “No need to shout.” He shook out his legs and started to stretch.
“What?” Palan asked.
“That!” Raea pointed at his tail.
“It’s a snake. It eats things like snakes are wont to do.”
“Spit it out!” Raea said and scrambled to her feet. “You can’t just eat things that talk! Why is it still alive!?”
Palan shrugged. “I thought it was dead,” he said. There was no lightning strike. “Just wait a week and she’ll come out naturally.”
“She!?” Raea asked. “Why would you eat something you acknowledge as a her!?” Raea opened Danger Noodle’s mouth and stuffed her arm down its throat. Her arm rummaged around a bit before latching onto something. Moments later, a harpy popped out of Palan’s tail.
“H-harbinger,” the harpy said to Raea and reached for the angel’s face before her eyes closed and arm dropped.
“What did she call you?” Cleo asked as she peered at the naked, slimy harpy. The simple clothes she had worn before were dissolved by Danger Noodle’s stomach acids. A few patches of her skin were also raw and red. “End bringer? That’s awfully rude of her.”
“She said, ‘Harbinger,’” Raea said and healed the harpy. She sighed and wiped her hand on the ground after the treatment was finished. Her eyes widened and her back stiffened as she remembered what just occurred. “This isn’t the time to relax!” She turned to Palan and pointed at the harpy. “Carry her, but don’t eat her! We have to help everyone as much as possible.” She stood up and promptly fell over. When Palan healed Raea, he was using her mana instead of his own which was extremely inefficient.
Palan and Cleo glanced at each other. “Can I name her?” Cleo asked. Palan shrugged. “Alright. Buffalo Legs.”
“I don’t understand your naming sense,” Palan said as he stared at the harpy’s bird-like legs.