Palan licked the blood off his fingers and glanced at the two skeletons next to him. The rabbit-demon corpse remained mostly uneaten and intact except for her arm, which Emergency Victuals was still gnawing on. Palan let out a burp and stared at the dire wolf. “You eat too slowly.”
Palan leaned back against the wooden wall and gazed at the surrounding angels. He could still hear Raea sobbing in the room behind him. He rose to his feet, causing the spectating angels to take steps backwards. His bones cracked and his muscles rippled as he stretched his arms above his head. He muttered to himself, “I got stronger again. Were they special?” He nudged the two angel skeletons away with his foot.
“There he is!” a voice called out from behind the spectators. An angel wearing a robe pointed at Palan. Four angels wearing armor stepped around and encircled Palan while raising their spears at him.
One of the guards frowned. “You are Lady Raea’s contracted demon,” he said and slightly lowered the tip of his spear. “Those people”—he pointed at the corpses near Palan with his spear—”you killed them?”
“Nope,” Palan said as his line of sight followed the spear, “they were dead when I found them. I just ate their corpses.”
“Then who killed them?”
“Regardless,” the angel said and pointed his spear at Palan, “we have to take you with us. Defiling a corpse is a serious crime and investigations must be conducted to find their killer.”
“Is it that bad?” Palan asked and tilted his head. He licked his lips. “Sorry, I didn’t know.”
“Apologizing is good and all, but it does not change what you have done,” the guard said and frowned. “Come with us.”
“Can’t do that,” Palan said and shook his head. “I have to be near Raea at all times.” The door to the restaurant swung open and Raea stepped outside with her eyes puffy. She frowned when she saw the angels surrounding the building and the bloody skeletons by Palan’s feet.
“Lieutenant Raea,” one of the guards said. “We have to bring your contracted demon to the prison with us. He defiled the corpses of these two angels.”
“I understand,” Raea said and nodded. She lowered her head. “However, I am the one to blame; I gave him the orders. Let him be and take me away instead.”
“Are you sure?” the guard asked and furrowed his brow. “You could be demoted or punished heavily if you choose to take the blame yourself.”
“I am,” Raea said and nodded as she unsheathed her halberd and passed it to one of her guards in the restaurant. She turned towards Palan and grabbed his arm. “I’m removing your distance restriction, but I’m forbidding you from causing harm to any angels or demons.”
“You’re really going with them?” Palan asked and raised an eyebrow.
“Of course. This is Div’Nya,” Raea said. “We have laws that must be obeyed. We take responsibility for our actions here.” She released Palan and nodded at her personal guards before heading towards the armored angels. They turned her around and bound her wrists together with a metal chain.
Palan scratched his head as Raea was taken away under the gazes of all the spectators. He glanced at Emergency Victuals. “I guess that means I’m free now?” The dire wolf barked and dropped the severed arm in its mouth.
Moments later, Owen grunted and woke up with a headache. He glanced around at the empty restaurant and saw bloodstains in the corner. He slammed his palms against the table as he stood up and dashed outside while gathering the group’s supplies. He saw his subordinates standing with furrowed brows outside the restaurant, staring at a group of guards leading Raea away in the distance.
“Lady Raea!” Owen shouted. He ran after her, ignoring his subordinates and Palan. Two guards blocked him with their spears before he reached Raea. “Lady Raea, what happened?”
“I am being taken away for questioning,” Raea said. “The expedition will be delayed until this matter is resolved.” The guard holding onto her chains tugged them, not letting her stop to talk with Owen.
“You cannot proceed beyond this point,” the two guards blocking Owen said as Raea rounded a corner. “Please go back.”
Owen furrowed his brow before turning around and marching towards his subordinates. He grabbed Palan’s t-shirt and tried to pull the demon towards himself, but ended up ripping the shirt instead. “What did you do!?”
“Lady Raea took the blame for her demon’s actions,” one of the subordinates said.
Owen gnashed his teeth and gazed at the surrounding spectators. “What are you looking at? This isn’t a show!” The angels whispered to each other before dispersing, leaving Palan alone with Raea’s guards.
Owen released Palan’s shirt and stared him in the eyes. “What are you going to do about it?” Owen asked. He raised his voice. “Lady Raea sacrificed herself to protect you. Again. Are you fine with letting a teenaged girl take the blame for you?”
Palan shrugged. “She offered.”
“You!” Owen yelled and clenched his hand into a fist. He punched Palan in the chest, causing him to take two steps back. “You have the audacity to call yourself a pride demon!? You’re nothing but a coward!” Owen raised his leg and kicked outwards towards Palan’s chest.
Palan frowned and caught Owen’s foot mid-kick. Emergency Victuals took advantage of Owen’s stance and chomped down on the angel’s future children. Owen howled in pain and collapsed to the ground as Palan released his foot. He looked at the dire wolf and stuck his thumb up. “Good job.”
Palan turned to one of Raea’s guards, ignoring the whimpering angel on the ground. He reached inside the leather sack by his waist and pulled out a yellow crystalline stone. He asked, “Does this have any value?”
The guard frowned and retrieved the stone. “This looks like an unrefined essence crystal.”
“Is that worth something?”
“You can barter with essence crystals,” the guard said and handed the stone back. “Some people may be willing to accept this as currency.”
Palan nodded and placed the stone back into his sack. He stepped over Owen’s twitching body and headed in the direction that Raea was taken. Owen raised his head and asked while whimpering, “Where are you going?”
Palan ignored him and continued walking with Emergency Victuals following after him. He sniffed the air and followed his nose, avoiding any angelic guards while making his way towards Raea’s scent. He ended up in front of a stone building with a watchtower acting as a roof. He pushed open the door, shattering the latch holding it in place, and walked inside.
An angel swiveled around and faced the door. Behind him was a desk and two chairs. Raea sat on one of the chairs, her hands still bound behind her back. She frowned. “Palan?”
“How did you get here?” the angel asked. He wore grey armor with a white feather badge pinned above his heart. He glanced at the splintered door and frowned as he stepped towards a halberd which leaned against the wall.
“Are you the person in charge?” Palan asked and tilted his head.
The angel tensed and grabbed the shaft of his weapon. “Yes. I am Lieutenant Sharr,” the angel said. “I run this outpost.”
Palan nodded. “Good. I was looking for you,” he said. “Can we talk privately? I can’t hurt you because of Raea’s orders.” Lieutenant Sharr frowned.
“Palan,” Raea said and furrowed her brow. “What are you trying to do?”
Palan ignored Raea as he continued to gaze at Sharr. “Well?” he asked the lieutenant. “You won’t be disappointed.”
Sharr hesitated before nodding. “Come upstairs, but leave your wolf behind,” Sharr said as he lifted the halberd and propped it on his shoulder. He turned around and proceeded up a stairwell, leaving Raea tied to the chair.
Palan ordered Emergency Victuals to stay before he followed after Sharr. They entered a room which Sharr closed and locked the door to. Sharr traced the edge of his halberd and asked, “What did you want?”
Palan smiled and pulled out the unrefined essence crystal. “I was hoping you’d let Raea go. I need her help and she doesn’t have much use if she’s locked up here,” he said and passed the stone to Sharr.
“You think you can bribe me?” Sharr asked and raised an eyebrow. Palan noticed he didn’t offer to hand back the stone.
“It’s not a bribe,” Palan said and pulled out a heavy-looking pouch. “Think of it as a gift for following my suggestion.”
Lieutenant Sharr eyed the pouch in Palan’s hand. “The angels you ate were students from the northern regions,” Sharr said and grinned. “It would be difficult for me to explain what happened to them.”
“Difficult?” Palan asked and retrieved a second leather pouch. “They were overconfident and got overwhelmed by a pack of dire wolves. I don’t see what’s so hard to explain about that.”
“What about the civilians in the town?”
Palan shrugged and pulled out a third pouch. “A few rumors won’t matter once the ‘truth’ gets out, right?” he asked as he placed the pouches in Sharr’s open hands.
Sharr laughed and wet his lips with his tongue. “How’d you know my sin?” he asked as he placed the pouches in a corner of the room.
“I didn’t,” Palan said and shrugged. “This is just how I solved most of my problems back in my world when I couldn’t resort to violence.”
“Interesting,” Sharr said and strapped his halberd to his back. “Where’d you get the crystals?”
“They’re everywhere back at home,” Palan said and smiled.
The two exited the room and proceeded down the stairs to where Raea was waiting. She furrowed her brows as the two men smiled at her. She frowned and asked, “Why do I feel so uneasy?”
“There seems to have been a mistake,” Sharr said as he began to undo Raea’s restraints. “The issue has been resolved and the true murderers have been revealed. I apologize for my earlier behavior.”
Raea blinked as the chains dropped off of her wrists. She turned towards her contracted demon. “Palan? What did you do to him?”
“I convinced him to let you go with your awesome powers of kindness,” Palan said and extended his hand towards Raea. “Now let’s go earn you some merits so I can get home.”
Raea glanced at Palan’s hand and ignored it as she walked past him. “I’m still disappointed in you,” she said. “You shouldn’t have ki—”
“Ahem, ahem.” Sharr cleared his throat as loudly as he could. “I can’t hear anything you’re saying. Please hurry and leave already.”
Palan grabbed Raea’s arm and dragged her out of the building with his dire wolf following after him.