Palan groaned as his eyes focused on the white ceiling in his vision. He sat up, wincing as the flesh on his torso burned in protest. “So you finally woke up,” a voice said. Palan turned his head and saw Uzziel sitting on a chair in front of the door to the room. He saw Raea sleeping on a bed in the corner of his vision. “I was under the impression you were a sloth.” The angel gestured towards the floor beside his bed. Tara was sleeping on her side, hugging Cleo to her stomach.
Palan made eye contact with the orange lizardman. Her beady black eyes were watery as she stared up at him, lips quivering. “Help,” she said, struggling to move her arms that were pinned to her side.
Palan ignored Cleo and focused his gaze on Uzziel. “Who are you?” he asked. He frowned as his hands sifted through his bedsheets, looking for his dagger and pouch.
“I put your belongings in the drawer next to you,” Uzziel said as he raised an eyebrow at Palan’s actions. “My name is Uzziel. I am a colonel serving under General Michael. I was assigned to watch over you two in case you plan on fleeing.”
Palan ground his teeth together and narrowed his eyes at the mention of Michael’s name. He spat a tooth out onto the ground and swung his feet over the side of his bed. He stood up and promptly fell over as a sudden sense of weakness assaulted his body, landing on top of Tara and Cleo. Cleo squeaked while Tara snorted and murmured as she rolled onto her other side. “You should stay in bed,” Uzziel said as Palan propped himself up with his arms. “I saw the carnage in the other room. I thought I saw portions of your ribs on the ground. Be a good demon and listen, alright?”
Palan’s chest burned as he got off the floor and glared at Uzziel. His vision turned red as he clenched his jaw, hot flashes burning his neck and face. “Hey now,” Uzziel said and tilted his head as Palan took a step towards him. “No need to react like that.” There was something about his voice that Palan couldn’t quite put his finger on. His vision gradually cleared and his body untensed. Uzziel smiled. “Just relax and rest in bed, yeah?”
Palan frowned as he sat down on the edge of the bed. His body moved against his will as he lay down underneath the covers. “What did you do to me?” he asked, turning his head towards Uzziel.
The colonel grinned and shrugged. “Try not to think too hard about it. Just be quiet and lie there for me.”
“Are you an angel of chastity?” Raea’s voice sounded out from the other side of the room. Palan gritted his teeth and opened his mouth to speak, but no sounds escaped from his lips.
“Bingo,” Uzziel said and smiled. “It feels so great to actually have my power work on a demon for once.” His face hardened as he stared at Tara. The sleeping demon’s arm rose, her hand forming a fist. The three conscious people in the room—not including Cleo—stared at the hand. A middle finger rose up. Uzziel snorted and rolled his eyes before facing Raea. “So you are Elrith’s youngest sister? You two look nothing alike.”
“You know my brother?” Raea asked, biting her lower lip.
“Yeah,” Uzziel said and nodded. “I went to school with him. How is he? I heard he was poisoned by someone with envy.”
Raea’s already red face turned even redder as she lowered her head and stared at the wall beside her. She mumbled, “He is doing fine.”
Cleo let out a squeak as Tara’s embrace tightened around her scaly body. The sloth demon yawned and opened her eyes as she sat up. “Where is this?” she asked, blinking a few times. She glanced at Cleo, her arms still wrapped around her. “What is this?”
“Please let me go,” Cleo said and pouted. Tara tilted her head, staring at Cleo with half-open eyes. She shook her head and yawned. Cleo squirmed and let out a wail. “Palan. Save me.”
Tara turned her head to look at Palan who was still lying on the bed. “A regular demon?” she asked and poked his cheek. Palan bit at her finger, but found that he couldn’t fully close his mouth. Instead, his body floated into the air and rotated with his arms spread out to the side. Tara rose to her feet and inspected his half-naked body. “How did you come here?”
Uzziel’s mouth fell open as he stared at Tara. “Who are you and what have you done to my demon?”
“Hush,” Tara said and stroked her chin, dropping Cleo onto the ground. Tara’s eyes were fully open and staring at Palan who was now hanging upside down. She glanced at Uzziel and pointed at Palan. “Let him speak.” Uzziel raised an eyebrow and nodded.
“What is with you freaks? I’ll kill every last one of you.” Palan spat a glob of spit at Tara. It stopped in front of her face and fell straight to the floor.
“Strong words for such a weak person,” Tara said. Palan’s body fell to the bed like a puppet with its strings cut. “Do you know who I am?”
Palan glared at her as he reoriented himself. “A son of a bi—”
Before he could finish speaking, his body buckled over and was thrown into the wall at the side of the bed. Tara nodded and said, “I thought so. You didn’t come from Haalbeh. Even though it’s been three years since I’ve ascended, I’m pretty sure I left a big enough impression to not be forgotten.” Palan’s body shuddered, and a trickle of blood leaked from the corner of his mouth as he raised his head. Tara’s eyes shone as she looked into his eyes. “Sleeping Calamity. Does that mean anything to you?”
Palan smiled as he stared into Tara’s eyes. “Yes. It does,” he said, enunciating every word slowly. “Get a cactus and stick it u—”
Tara sighed and shook her head as Palan was thrown at the wall again. “I guess you’re just some unlucky guy who tripped and fell into a random portal,” she said. “It would’ve been interesting if you got here the normal way as a regular demon.” She yawned and sat back onto her blanket on the floor. A squeaking sound resounded through the room as Cleo was lifted tail first into the air and thrown into Tara’s waiting embrace. She closed her eyes and snuggled the protesting lizardman before resting on her side.
Raea’s mouth hung open as she watched the interaction between Tara and Palan. Uzziel scratched his nose. “Sorry about that,” he said. “That’s just how she is. I could help you replace your demon if you want.”
“Don’t act as if I died,” Palan said and snarled as he sat up.
“Be quiet,” Uzziel said. “I wasn’t talking to you.”
Palan opened his mouth and yelled, but it was soundless. He screamed in silent frustration, staring at Uzziel with blood-red eyes. Raea let out a gasp and collapsed forward in her bed as her chest started to shine with a blue glow. She shrieked as a pair of translucent wings formed on Palan’s back. Blue flecks of light streamed from her body towards Palan. Uzziel’s face hardened, and Tara scrambled to her feet, distancing herself from Palan while dropping Cleo.
The space around Palan crackled and distorted. A snapping sound echoed through the room as the bed collapsed underneath his body, and he rose to his feet. He took a step forward. The floorboards contorted and bowed inwards as if a great weight was placed on them. Palan opened his mouth to speak, glaring at Uzziel. Even though no words came out, the colonel easily understood what he was trying to say.
I’ll kill you.