Chapter 6

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The golden light faded from Palan’s view. He squinted his eyes and his nictitating membranes flickered. A yellow moon hung in the sky, illuminating the surrounding trees. His eyebrows furrowed as he walked next to a tree and sniffed its trunk. He tilted his head and squatted, observing the grass that was growing out of the ground.

“So this is the angel’s world,” he said and raised his head, inhaling deeply through his nose. His nose twitched and his stomach growled. He smiled. “I guess angels bleed too.”

Palan weaved through the forest; twigs snapped and leaves crunched underneath his feet. He followed his nose and ended up at the edge of the trees, revealing an open plain. A road extended through the grass with a carriage parked in the middle. Four men stood in a square around the carriage, pointing spears outwards. They wore metal armor that reflected the moonlight. One man was leaning against the back of the carriage, clutching his bleeding arm.

A pack of twenty wolves surrounded the men. The biggest wolf had a scar across its face. Its hackles were raised, and its teeth were bared. Palan unsheathed his dagger and crouched, hiding himself behind a shrub, still quite a distance away from the foreign group.

The scarred wolf let out a howl and charged forwards, followed by its companions. A speartip pierced towards it, but the wolf twisted its body, causing the spear to just graze its fur. It bit the man’s arm and tugged downwards, pulling the man off balance. Four other wolves lunged towards the man, nipping at the exposed skin underneath his armor.

Palan held his breath as the wolves retreated backwards, pulling the man with them. The remaining wolves fended off the man’s companions while avoiding their spears. Palan licked his lips, “It doesn’t seem like the angels are poisonous.”

CRASH!

A lightning bolt fell from the clear sky. It branched off into five streams, striking the wolves who were biting the armored man. They let out yelps and retreated backwards with smoke coming off their fur. A woman stepped outside of the carriage with a metal orb in her hand. Her skin was light-red and her white hair flowed past her shoulders. She wore a simple white dress that covered her arms and dropped down to her ankles. She pointed the silver orb at the pack of wolves. Lightning crackled as it flowed out of her blue eyes and snaked down her body.

The woman gritted her teeth and shouted, “Scram!” A lightning bolt shot out of the orb and zapped another wolf, causing it to yelp and whimper. Sweat formed along the woman’s brow and her face blanched.

“Don’t let her efforts go to waste!” one of the guards yelled. He lifted his spear and charged towards the wolves, impaling the one that was just shocked.

“Charge!” the two other guards yelled and ran to their fallen companion. The wounded guard at the back of the caravan grit his teeth and staggered in front of the lady, holding his spear with one hand. Palan rubbed his chin and frowned. “They aren’t cowards at all.”

“They’re just beasts!” one of the guards shouted and swept his spear in an arc, knocking the surrounding wolves to the ground. The men fought valiantly against the wolves with the woman shooting lightning bolts from behind. When there were ten wolves remaining, one guard succumbed and collapsed to the floor, blood leaking from underneath his armor.

Soon, there were only seven wolves and two guards left. Then there were five wolves and the injured guard. Finally, four wolves surrounding the woman who was panting and gasping for breath. The wolves licked their lips and the scarred wolf eyed the metal orb in her hands.

“I won’t die here! Not like this,” the woman said as she grasped the orb. A massive pillar of lightning struck the four wolves, enveloping them with a white light. The woman coughed up a mouthful of blood and the orb in her hand turned black as it lost its silver luster. She collapsed onto her knees on the ground and held herself up with one arm. She breathed in deeply before coughing out more blood.

The scarred wolf’s body twitched. It staggered onto its feet, and ash flaked off its charred body as it took slow steps towards the woman. It paused as its ear twitched and it turned its head towards the road. Palan was sprinting at it with his dagger in his hand. The wolf growled and stomped its paws against the ground, its tail pointing straight up. Palan continued to charge, staring into its eyes.

The wolf let out a whimper as it dropped its tail and whirled around. It tried to sprint away, but its body spasmed, causing it to fall to the ground. It screamed as Palan plunged his dagger into the side of its neck, severing its jugular. He leapt backwards as the wolf spasmed and struggled, continuously losing blood from its wound. The woman stared at it with wide eyes and crawled backwards, attempting to distance herself from the dying beast.

Soon, the wolf stopped struggling and lay down, breathing its last breath. Palan walked over it, retrieving his dagger in one motion, and approached the woman. He squat in front of her.

“Demon,” the woman said, her voice cracked. “I appreciate the help. Who is your contractor?”

Palan tossed the dagger from his right hand to his left. “Sariel.”

“The Watcher?”

Palan nodded.

“I was not aware she made contracts with demons,” the woman said and frowned. “My name is Menyel.”

“I’m Simon,” Palan said and smiled, showing his teeth. Menyel shivered. “Do you need help?”

Menyel bit her lip before nodding. “Your aid would help me greatly. But are you not busy running errands for Sariel?”

“I’ve been separated from her due to a certain incident,” Palan said and sighed. “Do you know where I can find her? Maybe helping you will allow me to reunite with her.”

Menyel frowned and furrowed her eyebrows. Her body tensed. Her voice trembled as she spoke, “Escort me and my goods to the border and I will do my best to help you.”

Palan nodded and stood up. He extended his right hand towards Menyel. She hesitated, but grabbed onto his hand. She let out a yelp as Palan yanked her arm upwards, nearly dislocating her shoulder. She exhaled and winced as she collided into his chest. Palan raised an eyebrow and smiled. “I didn’t realize angels were this weak.”

He raised the dagger in his left hand and plunged it into the back of Menyel’s neck before shoving her body away from him. Menyel’s eyes widened as she fell over backwards and collapsed against the carriage. She opened her mouth, but no sounds came out.

“Even the most deceitful demon can’t lie to me,” Palan said as he stepped backwards, eyeing the orb on the ground next to Menyel’s body. Palan sighed. “I wonder what gave me away. I suppose I’ll find out when I meet another angel.” He squat on the ground, staring into Menyel’s eyes as they dimmed. Her hands clawed at the dagger embedded in her neck before falling limp at her sides.

Palan’s stomach growled.


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