Palan stood next to Raea on a porch, squinting his eyes at the blue pigeon flying away from them. A rolled up piece of paper that was twice the width of the bird was tied to its right talon. It continued to ascend until it was just a speck in the sky. “That’s really convenient,” Palan said. “It knows where to go?”
Raea nodded. “Pigeons always know how to fly back home,” she said. “We paint them depending on which area they came from. Once they reach their home, the people that take care of them remove the letter and deliver it to the addressee. It’s not perfect, but it works the majority of the time. It should take a few days for the letter to reach my father. All we can do now is wait.” She turned around and opened the door. “Since Captain Ishim left without giving us further orders, shall I teach you how to read and write now?”
Palan sighed. “There’s really nothing else to do?” he asked as he followed Raea inside. Owen was sitting on a couch with his hands clasped in his lap, staring at the table in front of him. His eyes were half-closed, and he didn’t react when Palan walked into the room.
“Did you have something else in mind?” Raea asked.
“Then there’s no problem, right? Knowing how to read and write is essential.”
“I’ve survived just fine without knowing,” Palan said and snorted. He took a seat on the couch across from Owen.
“I’ll get more paper,” Raea said and rolled her eyes as she walked up a flight of steps, disappearing from view. Palan grunted as he leaned back and stared at Owen while he stretched out his legs. His feet touched something furry.
“Hey,” Palan said. Owen didn’t respond, still staring at the table. Palan picked up the quill that Raea wrote the letter with and threw it at Owen’s face. The angel flinched as it left a streak of ink on his cheek. He raised his head and stared at Palan.
“What?” Owen said and frowned. He picked up the quill and placed it back onto the table.
“Your face irritates me,” Palan said. “Leave.”
Owen’s brow furrowed as he stared at Palan. He hesitated before sighing. “Alright,” he said and nodded once. He stood up and shuffled out of the building, closing the door behind him as Palan watched.
“Wow,” a voice said from beneath the table. Cleo’s head appeared near Palan’s legs, and she climbed onto the couch. “That was rude. I’m surprised he didn’t get mad at you.”
“He reminded me of someone unpleasant,” Palan said and ground his teeth. He spat a tooth into the palm of his hand and flicked it towards Cleo. “That bastard used to watch me with those exact same eyes when I got whipped.”
“Who?” Cleo asked and tilted her head. She placed the tooth into her pouch while continuing to stare at the side of Palan’s face. The demon’s eyes narrowed as he absentmindedly cracked his knuckles. The scars on his back itched.
Palan exhaled and turned his head towards Cleo. “What are you doing with all my teeth anyway?” he asked. The orange lizardman blinked at him and revealed a toothy smile.
“I’m making a necklace,” Cleo said and opened her bag. She pulled out a string that passed through six teeth. “The shape of your teeth is very … necklacey?” She nodded as she took out a needle and proceeded to thread it through her newly obtained tooth.
“Weirdo,” Palan said as he watched the lizardman work while humming to herself. Cleo stuck her tongue out at him before putting her supplies back into her pouch. The floor behind them creaked as Raea walked down the stairs with a stack of blank papers in her hands.
“Where’d Owen go?” Raea asked as she placed the papers onto the table and sat next to Palan.
Cleo opened her mouth. “He—”
“Ran away like a coward,” Palan said. Raea’s brow furrowed as she leaned over the table and picked up the quill.
“He has been acting a bit strange after everyone died,” Raea said and sighed. “They were like brothers to him. They grew up and did everything together after my father took them in.”
“You don’t seem that sad,” Cleo said as she stared at Raea dipping the quill into the inkwell. The lizardman had pestered Carmella until she revealed the full details of everything involving Palan.
“I don’t have the right to be sad after I got them killed. They all died because of me,” Raea said, her face expressionless. She began to write the letters of the alphabet on the paper and nudged Palan. “You should study hard now before Captain Ishim returns. I don’t think he’d be generous enough to give us a lot of free time.”
An angel picked up a rolled up piece of paper in front of the door. She was wearing a white bathrobe while carrying a basket of laundry. “Honey,” she called out and walked into a kitchen. “Raea sent you a letter.” She placed the paper down in front of a male angel who was sipping on a cup of tea while reading a book.
“Oh?” the male angel asked and raised an eyebrow. He placed the book down and picked up the letter. He broke the wax seal and unfurled the paper. At first, he smiled while reading the paper, but his face gradually hardened as his gaze traveled down the page. He exhaled as he put the letter down and raised his head to meet his wife’s stare.
“Well?” Raea’s mother asked. “What did it say?”
“Read it yourself,” the man said and offered her the letter. She took the paper and started to read.
“She seems to be doing well,” Raea’s mother mumbled. She raised an eyebrow. “She contracted a pride demon?” Her husband didn’t say anything as she continued to read. The corners of her lips turned downwards. “Those five…” she mumbled as her hands trembled. Another moment passed. She gasped. “Anidun?” She turned her head to look at Raea’s father.
“You think everything written is true?” he asked. “This could lead to a major incident that will be recorded in the history books. How far do you think Anidun’s influence has spread?”
“Of course everything is true. Do you remember that one and only time Raea ever lied?” Raea’s mother asked. “About eating the last cookie? She was bedridden for a month afterwards.”
The man sighed. “It looks like I have to go to the council on my day off,” he said as he stood up.