Selena sighed as she made her way to the pigeon delivery center. It had been three days since she reunited with Raea, and she was seriously concerned about her little sister’s future. Palan was a terrible influence on her, making her do things she’d never even consider back in the capital. First off, why did her demon have to sleep in the same bed? Granted, he slept while sitting up and never got underneath the blankets, but it was still too intimate for her liking. Who would believe that two people sleeping in the same room every night didn’t do anything together? And secondly, why was Raea making friends with more halflings than angels?
“Hey, Sell,” a voice said when she reached the pigeon delivery room. She looked up and saw Elrith sitting on a bench. “What’s wrong? You seem upset.”
“Good morning, Elly,” Selena said. “I’m worried about Raea.” She sat next to him on the bench. “I heard you two got into a few tiffs.”
Elrith grimaced. “I don’t even understand why,” he said and leaned back. “She always listened to me before. I was just telling her what was best for her and then she got upset with me.” He paused. “Well, she did break my arm on accident too. What are you here for?”
“I’m just checking to see if a reply came from the capital. It’s already been four days,” Selena said and smoothed out her robe. “It should be here today. Are you waiting for one too?”
Elrith nodded. His face darkened. “I have never been so thoroughly defeated in my life,” he said. “Asking the capital for help makes me feel so … pathetic. Like I failed my men. Nothing seems to be going right ever since Raea poisoned me.”
“Maybe you got into your spats with Raea because you say things like that,” Selena said.
Selena shook her head and stood up. “Never mind,” she said and walked up to the counter. A nervous-looking goblin with one eye was fidgeting while standing on a stool. “Has a letter arrived for Selena Caelum from the capital?”
The goblin didn’t make eye contact with Selena, but nodded furiously and hopped off the stool and approached a shelf. He rummaged around and pulled out a letter. His eye scanned over it before handing it to Selena. The wax seal was unbroken. “Thanks,” Selena said to the goblin. It scratched its slave collar in response while staring at the wooden counter. She didn’t mind and returned to the bench.
“Want me to open it?” Elrith asked, seeing the glum expression on Selena’s face. He didn’t think she looked very pleased to see the letter.
“No,” Selena said and sighed. “It’s alright.” She broke the wax seal and unfolded the piece of paper. Her expression grew darker and darker as she continued to read the letter. After she was done, she tore it to pieces and put the scraps into her pocket.
“Well?” Elrith asked.
“I’ve been told to collapse the tunnel I found and resume the search for more,” she said. Her brow furrowed. “Did you find any dwarves by any chance?”
“Dwarves? We didn’t see them personally, but a prisoner told us that they were working with them,” Elrith said.
Selena sighed. “So I was right,” she said. “The dwarves already have tunnels bypassing our checkpoint walls. How far do you think they’ve gotten? Could they already have established tunnels underneath the capital? The council requested for me not to divulge any information, but you’re you.” She paused. “This minor rebellion is a lot bigger than we thought. They said a lot of peoples’ live are depending on the collapse of the tunnel, so we should act with the utmost urgency. They didn’t say dwarves, but it’s pretty obvious from the context.”
“L-letter for General Elrith Caelum, sir,” a croaky voice said. It was the one-eyed goblin who just returned from a back room. Elrith stretched his hand out and the goblin scrambled over to hand him the letter. He frowned.
“This is Akurel’s wax seal,” Elrith said as he flipped the letter around. His brow furrowed as he snapped the seal and opened the letter. His hand trembled as he read through the contents. Selena felt a sense of unease as Elrith’s face blanched. “I think it may be a little too late to collapse that tunnel,” Elrith said, speaking slowly. He raised his head. “The rebels ambushed the second sector. Akurel’s army has been decimated. He sent a letter to me, Michael, and Jones along with a letter to the capital.”
“Isn’t Akurel’s army known for their offensive power?” Selena asked and furrowed her brow. “What about Jones’ army? Why wasn’t General Jones there as well?”
“When Michael and I left the second sector to come here, Jones and Akurel split their armies to the east and west. I can see how Akurel lost,” Elrith said. “The rebels have a lot of weapons we’ve never seen before. They have explosion-powered trebuchets and our orbs. A flock of harpies chased us all the way to the checkpoint, harassing us with lightning strikes the whole time. If they attacked at night when none of Akurel’s men were mounted … it’s too easy.”
“What are you going to do?” Selena asked.
“Wait for orders from the capital,” Elrith said. “Akurel’s army is already lost. It’ll take us a week and a half, or a week if we rush, to reach the second sector with an army of this size. We don’t have any cavalry, and the few horses we can get here will fragment our army. They’ve been plotting against us for who knows how long, but we didn’t know they even existed until a month ago. There shouldn’t be a fear of the capital falling. The council is still strong enough to take on armies individually.”
“But delivering food to the capital just got a whole lot more difficult,” Selena said. “The farms are in the third sector, and they have to pass through the second and first before reaching the capital.”
“Doesn’t that seem like a serious design flaw?” Elrith asked and furrowed his brow. “I know I’m not the brightest when it comes to managing a city, but….”
“The council decided on it a long time ago, saying that it’d be better to have the farms in the third sector so food can be distributed easily to the armies in the borderland,” Selena said. “Also, transporting captured halflings would decrease their chances of dying if they didn’t have to travel as far before reaching the farms.” She paused. “This was also suggested by Solra before the four sinners fell. Just how far ahead in advance did they plan this?”