“A-another letter for the General, sir,” the goblin said after it checked the back of the room again. He handed it to Elrith and quickly retreated behind the counter. Selena peeked at the letter in Elrith’s hand and recognized the wax seal as one from the council. She placed her hand on his shoulder when his arm started to tremble.
“Go on,” Selena said. The top of the envelope had Michael’s and Elrith’s names written in script.
“I feel like I should wait for Michael,” Elrith said.
“But it should be urgent? It won’t hurt for you to read it now by yourself,” Selena said. Elrith’s face hardened, and he nodded before breaking the wax seal. The contents of the letter were quite short, but Elrith read over each word at a deliberate pace.
The expression on his face was odd when he raised his head. “Well?” Selena asked.
“They want us to bring destroy our way back to the first sector,” Elrith said and furrowed his brow.
“Destroy the way?”
Elrith nodded. “I need to give this letter to Michael,” he said. “Walk with me?”
Raea was lying in her bed, staring up at the ceiling while Palan meditated beside her. Cleo and Sally were sleeping on Selena’s bed. A metallic voice echoed through the room, causing Raea to sit up and Palan to go on full alert. “To General Elrith’s and General Michael’s armies, gather at the grounds in the third sector. I repeat, gather at the grounds in the third sector.”
Palan stared at the floor. “There’s this kind of long-distance communication?” he asked. He tilted his head and stared at the tiles on the floor before trying to pry one off with his hands.
“Don’t break anything,” Raea said as she got out of bed and began to change into her armor. Cleo and Sally woke up from the noise.
“What’s going on?” Cleo asked with a yawn. She had forced Sally to carry her into the air for the past three days. The harpy felt elated for the first day, but soon got tired of Cleo’s excessive demands. The lizardman had to explain what a barrel roll was to the harpy, and both of them nearly died after they lost altitude while attempting the maneuver. “Are we going somewhere?”
“Help me store these tiles,” Palan said and tossed a black metal square at Cleo. She caught it and smelled it before placing it inside her space.
“What is it?” Cleo asked. Another tile flew at her, and she stored that one too. “Treasures?”
“I don’t know,” Palan said. “But they aren’t ordinary. And since you can carry anything anyway, it doesn’t hurt to bring everything that’s unusual with us.”
“You just think of me as a storage bag, don’t you?” Cleo asked and grumbled as she caught another tile.
“A portable one,” Palan said and nodded. Underneath the tiles, the floor was made of a smooth solid stone. There were no traces or outlines of rocks. Palan looked at Raea. “Is this floor natural?”
“I don’t know?” Raea asked as she finished putting on her armor. She looked at the cement-like floor. “It looks like the roads and floors in the capital. I think angels created it.”
Palan nodded. “I wonder if the voice came from this floor or the tiles,” he said and continued to pry the floor apart.
“Didn’t I tell you not to break anything?” Raea asked as she watched her demon’s actions.
“I’m keeping them intact,” Palan said.
“What if the voice comes from the floor and not the tiles?” Raea asked. Seconds later, the same message was repeated, but louder this time.
Palan frowned. “I guess I just got free projectiles then,” Palan said as he continued to tear apart the tiles. He raised his head. “You’re done changing? I’d thought you’d take longer.” He smacked his tail which was staring at Sally and stood up.
“I’m not that slow,” Raea said and rolled her eyes. “Let’s go. Also, stop antagonizing Sely every time you see her.”
“I don’t antagonize her,” Palan said. Raea waited for lightning to strike him, but it never came.
“What do you mean you don’t antagonize her?” Raea asked. “Don’t you try to provoke her all the time? Don’t you always bicker with her?”
“That’s provoking and bickering, not antagonizing,” Palan said as Danger Noodle wrapped around Sally who looked defeated. Cleo pouted and crawled up Raea’s back, resting her chin on the angel’s head.
Raea sighed and shook her head before exiting the room. The group headed outside the gate towards the third sector. Palan smiled. He was one step closer to the capital. The first checkpoint was behind him. He wasn’t surprised to see the lack of trees or full fields of grain; he saw them all the time from the windows. What caught him off guard was the silence. The fields were full of halfling workers, mostly goblins and lizardmen, but none of them were speaking. Even the angels with the whips that were patrolling the fields were silent.
Raea saw Elrith and Michael at the head of the group along with Selena. She wanted to go up to them but hesitated. Palan didn’t say anything after seeing her pause; instead, he crossed his arms over his chest and stared at her. “I-if you want something, then take it,” Sally said from Danger Noodle. She stuttered because the snake tightened around her body when she first spoke.
“That’s partially why I got thrown out of my home in the first place,” Raea said and smiled wryly. “It’s better to not be greedy. They look busy.”
“Let’s go sit on a storage chest,” Cleo said and lightly tugged on Raea’s hair, steering her towards the elephants. Raea took one last glance at the trio at the head of the army before climbing up a storage chest. The elephant seemed happy to see them. It remembered the little orange thing that fed it scraps of food.