Palan led Raea through the outpost, avoiding all the guards until the duo reached the southern gate. A frown was plastered on Raea’s face the whole time, but she didn’t say anything as Palan led the way. When she saw Owen and the rest of her cavalry waiting at the southern gate she opened her mouth and asked, “How did you do that?”
“Do what?” Palan asked. “Convince Sharr to let you go?”
“That too,” Raea said, “but how did you know where to go?”
Palan grunted and said, “I have a very good sense of smell; I can smell things from up to three miles away. Aside from that, my hearing is superb.”
“Really?” Raea said. “That isn’t just your pride speaking right? Three miles seems awfully far…”
Palan snorted. “Even if you took away my sense of smell, hearing, and sight, I could still sense any movement from living creatures nearby,” he said. “And I can see in the dark.”
“Mm.” Raea hummed and nodded. “Sure. How did you convince Sharr to release me?”
“I told him dire wolves killed and ate those people,” Palan said. “He believed me due to my integrity and willingness to take responsibility for my actions.”
“I don’t know why I ask you questions,” Raea said and sighed as she shook her head. Raea waved her hand as her subordinates saluted towards her. The duo rejoined the group and Owen stepped forward with his brows furrowed.
“Lady Raea, is everything alright?” Owen asked. “What happened?”
“I am not quite sure about that myself,” Raea said and glanced at Palan who released her arm. “Palan did something to convince the lieutenant to set me free and drop all the charges against me.”
“I see,” Owen said as his body relaxed. He took out a sandwich from a pouch strapped to his horse. “Then the mission will continue as planned? I saved you some food.”
“Thank you,” Raea said and took the sandwich from Owen’s hands. “There are still ten minutes left before the two hours are up. Make sure the horses are ready by then.”
“Understood,” Owen said and saluted. Raea grabbed Palan’s hand and tugged him towards an empty bench. She sat down and pulled Palan down to sit by her side.
“I think I made a mistake when I contracted you,” Raea said and frowned. She placed the sandwich on her lap and looked into Palan’s eyes.
“Are you setting me free?” Palan asked.
“No,” Raea said as she picked up her sandwich and studied the crust.
“So you just wanted to tell me I was a mistake.”
Raea grunted in affirmation.
Raea bit into her sandwich. She tasted meat. Images of Palan sinking his teeth into the rabbit-demon’s neck popped up in her head and she gagged before spitting out the food in her mouth. Palan stared at the blanching angel, but didn’t say anything.
Raea sighed as she put the sandwich down on the bench and turned her body to face Palan. Her lips quivered as she asked, “Why did you kill them?”
“I already answered that, didn’t I?”
“Because they irritated you?”
Raea sighed. “I guess I seriously misjudged you,” she said and lowered her head to stare at her hands. They were clasped together on her lap. “I really did think you were compassionate. How can you care so much for your sister, but have no regard for others?”
“That’s simple. They’re not my sister.”
“But they could be other people’s sisters. They could be other people’s brothers, fathers, mothers. T—”
“But not mine. And that’s all that matters to me.”
Raea fell silent and bit her lip.
Palan placed his hand underneath Raea’s chin and tilted her face towards him. “How many times has someone tried to kill you?”
Raea furrowed her brow. “No one has ever tried to kill me before.”
“How many people have you seen die?”
“Non—, three,” Raea said, correcting herself. “Today.” She removed Palan’s hand and shifted her gaze back to her lap.
Palan leaned back into the bench and stared at the two red suns in the sky. “For me, a good day is when less than five people try to kill me,” he said. “There’s usually ten or so attempts a day.” He turned towards Raea. “Do you know why I’m still alive?”
Raea stayed silent.
“It’s because I’ve killed everyone who tried,” Palan said. “I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve killed. It all started when a town leader placed a bounty on my head because I refused to give him my sister. People kept trying to kill me even after I got rid of the man who placed the bounty. Of course, he had connections with other town leaders and I was forced to stay on the run while making sure my sister stayed safe. People would sell out our location when we relocated to new areas. The most effective way to stop someone from talking isn’t to bribe them. It’s to kill them; dead people tell no tales.
“You and I were born in two completely different worlds. I’ve never had the luxury of considering anyone else’s feelings and I don’t think I ever will. So while compassion may be a good trait to have in this world, it’s a death sentence in mine. The only thing that matters is absolute strength. If things don’t go your way, you only have your own weakness to blame.” Palan sighed and stood up. “If you’re not going to eat that, we should get going.”
Raea’s vision blurred as her eyes grew hot. “I’ve heard of the demon world through other people’s contracted demons,” she said and wiped her eyes with the back of her hands, “but their experiences sounded very different from yours. Thank you for sharing part of your past with me; I feel like I can relate to you a little more.”
Palan grunted. “If you understand, then remove that restriction from me,” he said and snorted. “It’s going to suck if lightning struck me every time I had to kill someone.”
“I don’t want to see you kill anyone,” Raea said and frowned as she got off the bench.
“Then close your eyes; I’ve heard nice things about that. Never done it myself though.”
“You can’t close your eyes?” Raea asked and blinked. “I always thought you were trying to intimidate people.”
“I’ll remove your restriction, but you have to promise that you’ll let me know when you’re going to hurt someone,” Raea said. “If you can’t do that…”
“If you break your promise—”
Raea sighed. “Alright,” she said and nodded. “You said it yourself. If you break your promise, then you have to come back to this world with your sister and continue being my contracted demon for the rest of your life.”
“I didn’t agree to that.”
“Should’ve let me finish my sentence,” Raea said and stuck out her tongue. “That’s what you get.” Raea stretched her arms above her head. “I guess I haven’t been completely honest with you either.”
“What do you mean?” Palan asked as he followed Raea back to the group.
“I’ll explain on the way to the third outpost,” Raea said and mounted her horse. Palan joined her and Raea gave the command to proceed. The gate creaked open and the cavalry charged through.
An armored angel stood next to Lieutenant Sharr, watching the group leave from on top of the town walls. The angel asked, “You are letting her go?”
Lieutenant Sharr smiled. “Of course. It was just a misunderstanding,” he said and nodded.
“What do we tell the school?”
“They were eaten by wolves,” Sharr said and waved his hand, dismissing any further questions. “Close the gate.”