Raea yawned and stretched as she rolled around in bed. She rubbed her eyes before opening them. Palan was staring directly at her, unblinking with his bright-red eyes. Raea’s body spasmed as she jerked backwards and shouted. Her heart rate increased as she took in deep breaths before she finally settled down. She frowned. “Are you sleeping?”
Palan’s nictitating membranes flickered and his body twitched. He tilted his head. “Why are you staring at me?” he asked and yawned. The first rays of sunlight illuminated his face from the window beside him. He wiggled his teeth with his tongue, causing a tooth to drop out of his mouth.
“You were staring at me…” Raea said and glanced at the tooth on the floor. She sighed and shook her head. “Forget it. Get out of here; I need to change.”
Palan crossed his arms over his chest. “Not until you tell me your abilities.”
Raea groaned as she crossed her legs while sitting up on the bed. She placed her hands in her lap and sighed as her head drooped. “You know I was sent to the borderland because I had a sin, right?”
“Well,” Raea said and bit her lip. She took in a deep breath. “I actually have a mixture of two: greed and envy. My virtues are patience and kindness, ironic, I know. How can kindness and envy exist in the same person when they’re polar opposites?” She raised her head to look at Palan.
“So?” Palan said, his countenance unchanging. “Tell me how to use them.”
Raea tilted her head. “You’re not mad at me?”
“What kind of question is that? I’m always mad when I see you,” Palan said and snorted.
Raea’s lips twisted into a bitter smile. “You know that’s not what I meant.”
“I don’t care about your sins,” Palan said and propped his face up with his hand while resting his elbow on his armrest. “Just tell me what they do.”
Raea frowned. “I’m not going to use them, but I can heal people with kindness and I can restrain people with patience. My skill with the halberd is well below average compared to other angels, but it’s good enough to deal with goblins.”
“So you’re useless in close combat,” Palan said and nodded. “Why won’t you use your sins?”
Raea shook her head. “My family kicked me out of the capital because of them,” she said and furrowed her brow. “If I can get those feelings under control, they’ll let me back. If I use them, then they’ll just grow in me and I’ll never get to go home.”
Palan’s eyes narrowed. “I thought you just needed merits to go back to the capital,” he said.
Raea scratched her head and combed her messy hair before she smiled while remaining silent.
“I don’t understand,” Palan said and leaned forward. “Why is the capital sin free? If they only have virtues, doesn’t that make them weaker than the angels with both virtues and sins? Why not just kick them out?”
“That goes against the order of things,” Raea said. “Even if angels have some sin, ultimately we’re virtuous. We wouldn’t hurt anyone to satisfy our sins.”
Palan sighed. “Whatever. I’ll never understand how you angels think,” he said and leaned back, “so I’m not going to waste my time trying. The contract said that I could use your powers: virtues and sins. How do I use greed and envy?”
Raea shook her head. “I’ve only used envy once on accident,” she said and bit her lip. “That’s what got me expelled from the household.”
There was a knock on the door. “Lady Raea?” Owen’s voice asked. “The first sun has already risen.”
“Tell the soldiers to eat breakfast. We depart in an hour,” Raea said, facing the door.
“I understand,” Owen said. Footsteps faded off into the distance.
“Can I change now?” Raea asked, turning back to Palan.
“You said you had more to bring to the table,” Palan said. “I already knew about your healing and restraining and clearly you aren’t going to use your sins or tell me how to use them. You made me reveal my abilities for nothing in exchange?”
Raea pouted. “I was hoping you’d forget,” she said and sighed. She leaned over her bed and rummaged through her bag before taking out a silver orb. “Remember this?”
Palan nodded. “That was mine until you took it from me.”
Raea stuck her tongue out. “Well, it’s better off in my hands anyways,” she said as she spun it around on her palm. “Lady Menyel was an angel of temperance and this orb was her conduit. I can use this orb to call upon lightning strikes, but it only has a limited number of uses before it has to be recharged through temperance. If I try to charge it, it’ll just turn into another kindness conduit, which I already have.” Raea retrieved a similar looking orb and held it in her other hand. “All it does is amplify my healing though, which is why I wanted this one.” She raised Menyel’s orb.
“What can I do with this then?” Palan asked as he pulled a dull brown orb out of his bag. It belonged to the blue goblin that he killed the other day. A speck of blue light shone inside the orb, illuminating the murky brown innards. Palan frowned. “That blue light wasn’t there when I found it.”
Raea reached for the orb, but Palan put it out of her grasp. She pouted. “I just want to see it.”
“You see with your eyes, not your hands,” Palan said as he put it back in his bag.
Raea sighed. “Yesterday, that goblin shaman used it to call upon the powers of diligence to manipulate the earth,” she said and furrowed her brow. “He must have taken it from an angel; his subordinates were also wearing our armor and using our spears. How did he manage to beat a squadron of angels though?” She shook her head. “Anyways, it looks like your conduit ran out of power. You could probably use it as a crude mace? They’re very sturdy.”
“I see,” Palan said. He noticed Raea staring at his bag. “You still can’t have it.”
Raea’s eyes flickered back to Palan’s face. “I didn’t, wasn’t, no,” Raea said and shook her head. She slapped her face with both her hands and inhaled. She raised her head. “I’m okay now.”
“Weirdo,” Palan said as he stood up and turned around and crossed his arms. “Get changed.”
“But you’re still here,” Raea said as her brow furrowed.
“I’m not interested in your body,” Palan said and snorted. “If someone climbed in through this window and tried to kill you, you’d die before I could get the door open.” Palan sighed. “I felt more confident leaving my sister alone in the desert than I feel about leaving you out of my eyesight.”
“I’m not that weak you know,” Raea said as she climbed off the bed and put her hands on her hips.
“And I’m a cactus named George. Hurry up and get changed so I can try tasting some lizard people already.”
Raea sighed. “If you peek, I’m going to order you to crawl after Owen and bark when he talks to you.”
“Then I’d kill him and he’d no longer exist.”
Clothes rustled. “You always have to get the last word, don’t you?” Raea asked.