Raea rushed outside the room with Elrith. They could see Michael running down the hall ahead of them. Elrith reached out and snatched his tower shield from his attendant and dashed down the hall, gaining on Michael. Raea hesitated while watching the two general’s run ahead. “Go,” Pyre said and kicked her on the rump. “No one’s going to treat you as a deserter now that the Tyrant’s here.” Pyre pulled out a blindfold and handed it to Raea. “You might want to wear this though.”
“Huh?” Raea asked and took the blindfold. “Why?”
“Your eyes look like a snake’s,” Cleo said and blinked at her. Then she puffed her cheeks out and crossed her arms, turning her head to the side, still angry at being thrown out. Raea furrowed her brow and placed the blindfold into her robe before sprinting after her brother. Cleo and Pyre glanced at each other before charging into the room, dashing for the golden cocoon Raea left behind.
“It’s mine!” Cleo said and tugged on one end.
“What are you even going to do with it?” Pyre asked, tugging on the other. “Think of the research value it has.”
“Research smesearch,” Cleo said and overpowered the old angel, bringing the cocoon to her chest. “I grabbed it first.” She folded it in the blink of an eye and shoved it into her bag.
“What are you, a magpie?” Pyre asked and sighed. “How about we split it? I have some really nice stuff.”
“No!” Cleo said and dashed between Pyre’s legs, making a break for the door. Elrith’s attendant stood outside the room, running a metal comb through her hair while Cleo and Pyre dashed past her. Once the duo were out of view, she put her comb away and walked into Raea’s room, shutting the door without a sound.
Michael took a glance behind himself and saw Elrith stomping towards him with a giant towershield in one hand, his footsteps leaving imprints in the ground. “What’s the matter, Ol’ Stormy?” Elrith asked as he grinned, a fire burning in his eyes. “Your age starting to catch up with you?” The two ran down the streets, their soldiers parting and making way for their generals. Michael snorted and a layer of green wind enveloped his legs, increasing his speed towards the gate where screams continuously rang out.
“This old guy,” Elrith said and narrowed his eyes. He threw his towershield down in front of himself and jumped onto it. A mound of earth rose out of the ground and rushed forward like a wave, carrying Elrith like a surfer. He quickly caught up to Michael with his arms crossed across his chest, standing leisurely on his shield.
“This isn’t a competition,” Michael said and furrowed his brow at Elrith.
“Maybe you don’t have a reputation to maintain because of your old age,” Elrith said and shrugged, “but I do. It’s my responsibility as a Caelum to be the best in everything I do.”
A red and white blur dashed past the two generals and stopped in front of them, revealing Raea with a puzzled look on her face. “Eh? Why are you guys moving so slowly?” she asked. She shrugged. “I’ll go first then.” She turned back around and dashed off towards the gate, leaving behind a small cloud of dust in her wake.
“You were saying?” Michael asked as he turned to look at Elrith.
“There’s nothing wrong in losing to another Caelum,” Elrith said and looked up at the sky, avoiding Michael’s stare. The two arrived in time to see Raea kneeling beside a soldier, her hands glowing white as she healed him.
“What is the situation?” Michael asked, climbing the stairs to the top of the gate. Elrith stayed by Raea’s side, watching her lips purse in concentration as she mended the wounded man beneath her.
“There is a single demon outside the gate claiming to be the mini-tyra—Miss Caelum’s demon!” a soldier said and saluted before pointed at Palan who stood on the other side of the gate, thirty soldiers collapsed on the floor around him.
“Just let me in, damnit!” Palan said as he tossed a fallen soldier over the gate. His tail was wrapped around his torso; the snake eyes at the end were closed, seemingly asleep. He was still naked but not because he hadn’t tried to put on clothes. There was simply no way for any pair of pants to fit with his tail, which was as thick as a thigh, in the way. He narrowed his eyes. “Don’t make me break the gate.” A lightning bolt flew from one of the collapsed angels’ hand and struck him on the back. The red stripes on his tail flickered, and the bolt of lightning dispersed without leaving a mark. Palan snorted and grabbed the offending angel by her shoulder and threw her over the gate. She shrieked the whole way until the sound was cut off by a thump.
Palan’s tail uncoiled from around his body, revealing the toned muscles on his torso. They bulged as he took a step forward with his right foot, lowering his right shoulder at the same time. His tail rose into the air as he spun his body around in one motion. Like a whip, his tail lashed out towards the gate, a layer of black light covering its length as he increased its weight with his powers of pride. The tail struck the gate and smashed it into pieces, splinters flying through the air. His tail crawled back to him and wrapped itself around his body again, acting as a piece of mobile armor.
Raea raised her head as Elrith deflected part of the gate with his shield. “Palan?” she asked, lifting her hands from the wounded angel. She stood up and furrowed her brow as she walked towards her demon. “You’re … bald?”
Elrith covered her eyes with his hand. “Of all the things to notice, that’s what you notice first?” he asked. He glared at Palan. “Who are you?”
A smirk appeared on Michael’s face as he watched Elrith staring at Palan. Sparks seemed to fly between their heads as they sized each other up. The surrounding soldiers, who hadn’t already run away because they were injured, were crawling on the ground, attempting to distance themselves from the two. Normally, Michael would stop a fight before it escalated, but he was curious to see how strong Elrith had become. The soldier standing by Michael’s side looked at his general but swallowed the words he was about to say. This was the first time he ever saw his general smile.