Selena sighed as she manipulated a pile of dirt back into a hole it came from. She squinted her eyes and saw the gates to the checkpoint way off in the distance. The wall was still behind her back, and soldiers were above her manning the crossbows, but she still felt uncomfortable. Ever since Palan had kidnapped her right in front of the gate, she didn’t believe in the security as much. She had been digging holes for a little over a week, but she hadn’t found any signs of tunnels. Even though the seven angels were angels of diligence, they were starting to get tired. There was no guarantee that the tunnels even existed. The capital had sent a letter saying more angels would come, but there was no sign of them.
Selena arched her back, causing a series of cracks to ring out from her waist. She was used to standing for extended periods of time due to her lecturing, but her powers made her sore. Once the dirt was back in place, she crouched down and marked it with another ‘X’. There were hundreds of ‘X’s on the ground, making a pattern along the wall. She took ten steps towards the right and began to dig once again.
Her digging process was becoming more and more refined with each hole she dug. She had experimented with many methods, but she found the best one to be creating a needle-sized column in the ground, then rotating the dirt out of it similar to an auger drill. She had plans of creating a tool that followed the same concept. It could be a new way to create foundation holes for building posts without the use of diligence angels.
The hole began to expand as her torso swayed back and forth, her legs firmly planted on the ground. First it widened, then dirt began to rise out of the ground in a spiral motion. She closed her eyes and felt the earth moving beneath her feet and began to hum. At least all the holes she dug before weren’t a waste of time. She had gained a more firm control over her power, but she was also afraid she’d overexert herself soon. Although she’d only heard rumors about the aftereffects of overdrawing her mana, she had no intentions of doing it herself. Just as she was getting to the good part in the song she was humming, her sense of the earth suddenly widened and she fell over backwards from the shock.
“Ow….” Selena groaned and stood up, rubbing her tailbone. She frowned and stepped on top of the pile of dirt and peered down the tunnel. She thought she saw something white and sucked in her breath. Had she found what they were looking for? She pulled a translucent, clear crystal that the angels used for lighting out of her robe and squeezed it. It began to glow with a bright light that caused her to shield her eyes. She dropped it down the tunnel, and watched it fall. When it reached the bottom, it bounced and clattered out of view. Selena gasped and took a step back from the hole she created. She shouted up towards the soldiers on the wall, “I think I found it.” She quickly filled the hole back in and wrote in giant letters, “right here” and marked it with an asterisk.
Selena sprinted towards the checkpoint gate while the soldiers went to inform the rest of the diligence angels. She felt like a child running up the stairs, in the dark, to her bedroom after turning off the lights in the basement to escape the monsters. She couldn’t shake the feeling that something was out to get her, like she opened something she shouldn’t have. She made it through the checkpoint gate into the wall without a hitch. It was only until she got to her temporary lodgings that she finally relaxed. The drawer creaked as Selena opened it and pulled out a piece of parchment, a quill, and ink. The capital would appreciate her for being the first to discover what they were looking for. Maybe she could get them to reduce Raea’s punishment as a reward.
When she finished writing the letter, there was a knock on her door. She recognized it as the captain’s, judging by the sound. “Come in,” she said. The door opened and the captain of the checkpoint stepped inside.
“I heard you found the tunnel?” he asked. Although he had been there for the first three days to watch over the angels, he got bored of it quickly and hadn’t stepped outside since. Selena suspected it was because a patrol group was found dead on the third day with their heads twisted off. Their bodies were set up like mannequins in a grotesque picture of a ball, dancing with each other and pretending to eat from bowls made from their cracked open skulls. Selena had gone along that time, expecting to find Raea’s demon for some more answers. She sincerely hoped that macabre scene wasn’t his doing.
“Yes,” Selena said. “Or at least a wide open space beneath the ground. I dropped a crystal down and it bounced out of view.”
“I see,” the captain said and stroked his chin. “I suppose that means you’ll be leaving the checkpoint soon?”
“That depends on the capital’s response,” Selena said. “They may ask us to locate more tunnels. There might not only be that one.”
“Oh,” the captain said and smiled. “That’s good. I heard some news that you might like, Ms. Caelum.” Selena tilted her head. “The army led by your brother is on their way back right now. We just got notice from one of their messengers. It’ll be a day or two at most for them to arrive.” The captain seemed sincerely happy. Like Selena, he was spooked by the grizzly scene in the forest. Having two archangel generals in his checkpoint would cure a lot of his worries.
“Really?” Selena asked. “That’s great news. Thank you for informing me.”
“Of course,” the captain said. “I’ll be going now. Dinner will be steak tonight. The days are starting to get chilly and the farmers are starting to slaughter their animals for the winter.”
Selena nodded at the captain before he left. She reread the letter in her hands before rolling it up and sealing it with a wax stamp. She hummed as she made her way to the pigeon delivery station. She couldn’t wait to see Raea and Elrith again.