“Are you sure this thing can support two people?” Palan asked with his brow furrowed. He sat behind Raea with his arms past her waist, grabbing the cantle with his hands while his feet were underneath Raea’s in the stirrups.
“Yes,” Raea said and pat the horse’s neck. “My magic can cure other creature’s exhaustion.” The troop of cavalry advanced at an even pace down the dirt road with Emergency Victuals running alongside Palan and Raea.
“If you say so,” Palan said and glanced at the wolf running beside him. “Why are angels killing off lizardmen? I heard that angels were benevolent and loved everything. At least that’s what the demon who claims to have been here said.”
Raea tightened her grip on the reins. “That demon most likely only visited the capital then,” she said. “All the angels that live in the capital possess no sin. They would help send a demon home, unlike other places in Div’Nya.”
“That doesn’t explain why you’re killing off lizardmen,” Palan said. “And how can you tell if an angel has no sin? Can’t they just hide it?”
“We are subjugating the lizardmen, not eliminating them,” Raea said. “We enlighten them spiritually and, in return, our powers increase. As for hiding sin, that is impossible. The Watcher, Sariel, can sense sin within a certain distance from herself. No one knows how far her range is, but it is far enough to encompass the whole capital.”
Palan’s eyes narrowed. “Sariel,” he said and ran his tongue across his teeth. “I’d like to meet her one day.”
“Help me render enough merits in the borderlands and you will,” Raea said.
“Couldn’t I just abandon you and go to the capital?”
“There are four checkpoints between the fortress where I found you and the capital,” Raea said. “You would not get past the first one by yourself.”
“So I really am stuck with you for the time being,” Palan said and sighed. “Unless… I should form a contract with a new angel, one who appreciates me more.”
“Nope,” Raea said as she smiled and leaned back into Palan. “I refuse to break our contract until you help me get back to the capital. You can’t form a new contract until ours is over.”
Palan frowned and pushed Raea forward. “What if you happen to suffer some accident and die in a manner totally unrelated to me?” he asked.
“Then you die.”
“What happens to you if I die?”
“I’ll be sure to give you a proper burial.”
“I mean, a contracted demon could just kill his partner while they’re sleeping and get away with only a few shocks if that wasn’t the case,” Raea said and turned her head to face Palan. “Just because angels are nice doesn’t mean we’re naïve to the point of not deserving to live.”
“I feel like I got the short end of the stick,” Palan said and frowned.
Raea nodded and refocused her gaze on the road. “You should feel that way because you totally did,” she said. “But you do get to draw on my awesome powers of kindness.”
Palan rolled his eyes. “And how do I do that?” he asked. “Do tell.”
“You have to think positive thoughts about your target. Think about their situation and relate to them; try to love them,” Raea said. “Then you’ll have a fuzzy feeling in your chest which you direct towards your hands.”
“And that’ll help me kill them?” Palan asked while raising an eyebrow.
“What? No!” Raea said and turned her head around to face Palan. “Kindness is used to heal people! Who has ever killed anyone with kindness before?”
“So, what you’re saying is your power is totally useless to me?”
“It’s not useless,” Raea said and pouted as she turned back to the road. “What if your sister was injured and you had no medicine around?”
Palan furrowed his brow. “Fair point. Can I heal myself?”
“No, but I can heal you and you can heal me.”
“I doubt it. I can’t imagine myself thinking positive thoughts about you at all.”
Raea sighed and shook her head. “You’re lucky I’m patient,” she said. “A different angel would’ve disowned you by now.”
“Patience. Isn’t that one of the virtues?” Palan asked. “How do I use that?”
“It’s a defensive magic. You have to be determined to settle things peacefully with your target in order for it to work,” Raea said. “You can’t have any thoughts of injuring them and you have to forgive them for any wrongs they’ve done.”
Palan frowned. “Do you have anything I can use?”
Raea bit her lip before opening her mouth to speak. She hesitated and bit her lip again. “No.”
Palan raised an eyebrow. “I don’t believe you, but I’m not going to press you for it,” he said. “I don’t need to rely on anyone except for myself anyway.”
Raea lowered her head and tightened her grip on the reins. A wooden outpost appeared in the distance and the cavalry slowed to a halt in front of the gate. A scene similar to the one at the first outpost played out and the group entered the outpost. Palan yawned and stretched his arms over his head after he dismounted. “How many of these do we have to go through before we can start killing things?”
“Subjugating,” Raea said and slid out of the saddle. “There are a total of three outposts. A fourth is currently being established, but some natives have been interfering with construction.” She turned around and faced the forty-odd soldiers following her. “We will stop here for lunch. Remember to feed and water your horses before we depart. I heard there was food served in this outpost, but I have not been here before…”
One soldier took off his helmet and stretched his back. “There are plenty of stores around here that sell freshly caught meat and rations. Not all of us will be able to fit in a single restaurant. How about we split up?”
“We can do that,” Raea said and nodded. “Meet at the southern gate in two hours.” The crowd of soldiers cheered and dispersed into their own groups, leaving Raea with Palan, Owen, and her five other guards.
“What do you want to eat?” Raea asked.
“I will be fine with any choice you make,” Owen said. The guards behind him nodded.
“Palan?” Raea asked, turning towards her contracted demon.
Palan glanced at the wolf by his side. He licked his lips. “Something furry.”
Raea blinked. “I have never heard anyone use the word furry to describe what they wanted to eat before.”
“Well now you have. Something fluffy is also fine.”
“Furry or fluffy…” Raea said and frowned. “We can browse the stores and see what they have. Does that sound good?” Her guards nodded and started to head towards the center of the outpost.
“I don’t have much of a choice, do I?” Palan asked and sighed before following after the angels. “I would go hunting, but the lightning strikes make it impossible to stalk prey.”