“Hey, old man, you’re an angel of knowledge, right?” Palan asked, staring up at the sky. His body protested every time the storage chest jolted, but it was far better than walking by himself.
“That is correct,” the blindfolded angel said and took out a pipe hidden in his robes. He pulled out a red orb and placed it near the opening of the pipe, lighting the contents on fire. Raea gaped at him and stared at the orb as Pyre placed it back into his robe. Pyre took a long drag on his pipe and exhaled, blowing out a fine cloud of purple smoke. “Would you like some?”
“Absolutely not!” Raea said. “Where did you even get an orb of wrath from? And inhaling these kinds of substances will surely decrease your lifespan.”
Pyre shrugged. “What about you, Palan?”
“I never consume things other people give me,” the demon said.
“Makes sense,” Pyre said. “Demons are very cautious folk, except for the gluttons. The fact that they can digest anything without getting sick probably helps.” Cleo was gazing up at the pipe, but Pyre and his blindfolded eyes took no notice of her. Raea covered the lizardman’s eyes and directed her away from him. Pyre smiled and turned his head towards Raea as if he sensed her disapproval. “This plant is a sort of poison”—he took in another drag—“it numbs your senses but it also reduces pain. Without it, I would have gone crazy a long time ago because of my self-sacrificing nature.”
The disapproval on Raea’s face still didn’t disappear. “Those substances are banned in the capital,” she said.
“We’re not in the capital,” Pyre said and grinned. “I never liked that stuffy place. Too many rules made up by sheltered babies.”
Raea pursed her lips. “That is not something an angel should be saying,” she said.
“Then it’s perfectly fine for me to say it,” Pyre said and pulled out the red orb.
“What do you mean?”
“You wanted to know how I got this, right?” Pyre asked, ignoring her question. “My great-grandfather was the one who created these little orbs. It was revolutionary at the time—still is—and it allowed the angels to expand their borders greatly. Of course, as one of his descendants, I know how to make them.” Raea’s brow was furrowed as she tried to recall the name of the creator of the orbs. “As for filling it with wrath, I just asked my friend, and he complied.”
“He complied?” Raea asked. “Wouldn’t that make him less resistant to wrath in the future?”
Pyre shrugged. “Demons don’t care about stuff like that,” he said. “Most of them are happy that I treat them as people. After being pulled from their world and forced to be slaves, who wouldn’t?” Pyre chuckled as he blew out another cloud of purple smoke. “I wonder what kind of expression you have on your face right now. Do you regret riding with me?”
“No,” Raea said and shook her head. “I am inclined to agree with you but only for the slavery part. You still shouldn’t be smoking.” Her brow creased. “And if your great-grandfather was the creator of the orbs, then your family name should be Khondra. But the history books said that the family line stopped with Yulia Khondra nearly eighty years ago.”
Pyre shrugged. “I told you the truth,” he said. “Believe what you want. Just know that not everything you read is canon.” Pyre sat down and tapped his pipe against the edge of the storage chest, causing some ashes to fall out. “I believe Palan wanted to ask me something?”
“All the virtues and sins,” Palan said, still staring at the sky, “do you know what their powers manifests as?”
“I know the majority of them,” Pyre said. Raea found it odd how they talked to each other while staring in totally different directions. “Doesn’t the wise and sheltered Miss Raea know? Why do you have to ask me?”
Raea pursed her lips. “I never learned the sins,” she said.
“You didn’t find a book on it telling you what to believe?” Pyre asked and smiled at her. “Clearly my words can’t be verified unless there’s a book agreeing with me.”
Raea sighed. “I apologize for doubting your words,” she said and sat down next to Palan. “They just went against what I formerly knew so I was having a hard time accepting them as truth.”
Pyre laughed until he started to cough. “I was just messing with you,” he said. “I’m too old to bear any new grudges; after all, I still haven’t dealt with my current one. Have you ever wondered why you couldn’t find any books about the sins? I’m sure you’ve tried before.”
“The council most likely banned them,” Raea said. “They’re bits of unnecessary information that can cause unrest through the populace.”
“Exactly,” Pyre said. “They have no qualms about withholding information as long as it suits them. Remember that.”
Palan exhaled loudly, interrupting Raea’s train of thought. “What’s wrong?” Raea asked and hovered over Palan. “Do you need more healing?”
“Can we open this chest and hide inside of it?” Palan asked, wincing as he sat up. “I’m really not in the mood to hunt right now.”
A wall of wind roared into life, surrounding the soldiers and elephants. Black flames crackled and flew against the wall of wind, slamming into it but unable to pierce through. The flames swirled around in the air and continued to expand until the only thing visible was a vortex of fire. The soldiers readied their weapons and stepped into formation. Raea couldn’t hear any orders being given over the roaring of the vortex, but the soldiers seemed to have no issues as they moved like a well-oiled machine.
The roaring of the fire slowly died down until there were only wisps of black flames circling around the soldiers. The surrounding forest and road where the wind wall was formed was charred, leaving behind a black circle on the ground. There were no signs of any angels or follow-up attacks. Raea frowned. “Uzziel said that Captain Ishim would fight honorably.”
“Honor is overrated,” Palan said. “Ishim would be stupid to fight honorably. Uzziel is stupid for thinking he would.” He lay back down on the storage chest and sighed.
“What color were the flames?” Pyre asked. He hadn’t moved from the edge of the storage chest the whole time. Cleo had watched him leisurely take a drag from his pipe when the flames started up.
“Black,” Cleo said. “That was really scary.” She tilted her head. “I guess it’s not as scary for someone who can’t see. How is someone like me supposed to fight against that? It’s not fair.”
“I found myself asking that question a lot as I got older,” Pyre said and chuckled, patting Cleo’s head. “Black flames of wrath. That’s on the level of an archdemon.” He rubbed his chin, and a faint smile could be seen forming on his lips. “Interesting.”