Raea listened to Sally’s soft sobs and whimpers and sighed. She wished she could reduce the harpy’s suffering, but she really had no idea how to help her feathered friend. The last time she had been truly scared was when she poisoned Elrith with her newfound sin. Her mother had solved that problem for her though, she couldn’t do the same for Sally. Maybe it would be better to let her free.
“Sally?” Raea asked. A loud whimper was the only reply she received. “Would it be better if you were set free? Like, free free, not just free from Palan’s tail.”
“I, I don’t know,” Sally said while hyperventilating. “I can’t t-think right now.” Tears streamed down her cheeks as her body swayed back and forth at the complete mercy of Danger Noodle’s whims. She hoped Cleo would return already to free her, having forgotten that the lizardman was the reason she was in this predicament.
Palan was sitting down with his elbow on his leg and face propped up by his palm. He had been bored for the past week. He couldn’t meditate because Raea’s body had no mana, and he didn’t dare practice his powers outside in case something happened to Raea again. There were nightly attacks from the harpies, but thankfully, Madison never used her hammer like that first night. Michael had been able to minimize casualties while Elrith transported the camp on an earthen platform. Palan turned his tail upside-down, flipping the harpy over. She screeched when her hair touched the floor, and didn’t stop screaming for a while. Then he flipped her right-side up. At least he could train his tail.
Cleo returned after about half an hour with two trays of steaming hot food in her hands. She climbed into the storage chest using her feet and tail, balancing the food while sliding down the ladder. She placed the food on the floor and looked at Raea with a frown on her face. “Owen’s sleeping because he helped Elrith transport stuff at night. Carmella and Gerome are busy carrying supplies. Blossom’s in charge of one of the squadrons and she can’t leave either,” Cleo said and sighed. “They all said they’d make it up to you somehow.”
“It’s alright,” Raea said. “I can’t really celebrate much when I’m disabled. I think I’ll be better after a day or two. We should arrive at the checkpoint by then, I think.”
“Does anything special happen when an angel turns into an adult?” Palan asked. “I know demons become a lot more sinful. The children are innocent until they grow up.”
“Err, it’s more of a symbolic thing,” Raea said. “It’s also the age when we can get married.” Her face turned red. “We meaning angels, not you and me. Usually the parents arrange the marriage, but I don’t know what’s going to happen to me, being an exile and all.” Her lips pressed into a wry smile.
“Don’t forget the scales and eyes,” Palan said.
Raea winced. “I did,” she said. “Thanks for reminding me. Another reason for me to remain an eternal bachelorette. Maybe I should try to become an angel of chastity too.” She bit her lip. Thinking of chastity reminded her of that lust trip. “Or not,” she mumbled.
“Oh,” Palan said. “Speaking of chastity. Remember that lust trip?”
“Yes…,” Raea said. She wanted to cover her face with her blanket, but her arms wouldn’t move.
“Apparently, the person you see in the dream is the one who arouses you the most,” Palan said and chuckled. Sally involuntarily yelped from the sound. Her eyes were closed.
“Where did you hear that?” Raea asked. She was more confused than embarrassed because Palan didn’t get struck by lightning.
“From your sister,” Palan said. “Selena. She looks a lot like you, but she has more common sense. It was refreshing really.”
Raea sighed. “Can you not compare me to her? Everyone already does that,” she said. She paused as the words sank in. “But how did you meet Sely!? She’s supposed to be in teaching in the first sector. Is she in the borderlands?”
“I saw her at the checkpoint,” Palan said. “She was digging holes. And did you not hear what I said? Arouses you the most.”
“Cleo…,” Raea said. “Can you lift the blanket over my face?” The orange lizardman pretended not to hear as she slurped her bowl of stew as loudly as possible. Raea sighed as her face burned. Did she really feel that way towards Palan? She cleared her throat and pursed her lips. “About Sely. How was she? Is she alright? What do you mean digging holes?”
“You can’t just bring her up and not tell me anything about her! That’s just cruel,” Raea said and pouted. “How would you like it if I said I met Andrea and didn’t tell you anything about her?”
Sally screeched as Danger Noodle constricted for an instant before loosening again. Palan pat the harpy’s head causing her to whimper. His fingers trailed down her cheeks and playfully wrapped around her throat. Her skin was unusually pale due to the environment she grew up in. He smiled at the harpy before releasing her. “Fair point,” Palan said to Raea. “Your sister’s doing fine. We met on kind of bad terms, but she still answered a lot of the questions I had.”
“Please don’t tell me you attacked her,” Raea said. Palan didn’t respond. “Did you?”
“No comment. She’s mostly unhurt,” Palan said, “maybe one or two scratches from falling over. She seemed very concerned about you.”
“And what about the hole digging?”
“I don’t know. There were a bunch of angels dressed in brown robes digging holes in the ground using diligence. Maybe they were looking for something,” he said. “I wonder if they found it. Your sister will probably still be there if they didn’t.”
“I hope she’s still there,” Raea said and sighed, “but I also hope she found what she was looking for. Sely was the one who convinced my mom to save me, you know? She offered to come with me to the borderlands, but I didn’t want her to. She’s a very good researcher. I didn’t want to take her future away from her.”
“Good thing I recognized her in time,” Palan said and nodded. He poked Sally’s forehead. It amused him to watch her squirm.